For a genre that’s often characterized as “sounding all the same”, 90’s American skate punk has remained a massive influence to this very day. Not just on the American scene either, as the ‘Epi-Fat’ sound has made its way across borders and oceans, ingraining itself into the minds of the angry and apathetic youth all over the world. Enter: Germany’s Hell & Back. Earlier this year the four piece released Heartattack, a love letter to 90’s punk just over a half hour long. It also happens to be their debut album, and similar to the debut albums of their influences, it’s a damn fine way to start off their recorded career.
Heartattack starts off strong with plenty of bass heavy and guitar chugging tracks that make up the idea soundtrack for a skate park, but the album really finds its stride starting at the halfway point. That’s not a knock on the album’s A-side, which contains some fine music… it’s just that the B-side, beginning with “Negative Adjectives”, is stacked with all the best songs. The track begins with a sound clip, in this specific case, it’s from Seinfeld (is it a coincidence that the album gets amazing after a Seinfeld quote? You decide.), before launching into an anthemic tune that just begs to be shouted along with. From that point on, the remainder of the album is smooth sailing with black flags (or whatever kind of flag best represents boredom) held high.
Like most bearded punk bands these days, there’s a heavy lyrical focus on feeling jaded and generally dissatisfied with life (“Dormer”, The Pre-Assembled Life”). However, where there’s despair, there’s also hope, and Hell & Back spend just as much time, if not more, on looking for ways to avoid being just as sad and drunk as everyone else (the aforementioned “Negative Adjectives”, “Couch Sematary”), as well as a call to arms against the shitty behaviors and attitudes some people carry in this life (“Above All”).
I don’t know much about the current state of the German punk rock scene, but I know that Hell & Back are definitely an act to keep an eye on. Despite not doing much to change the formula that’s been going strong for 20+ years, they’ve crafted an album worthy of carrying the melodic punk torch. Don’t take my word for it though- the album is available as a name-your-price download. Go check it out and see for yourself!
4 / 5 – Stream the album below!
RIYL: Irish Handcuffs, Good Riddance, The THPS2 Soundtrack