Dying Scene Album Review: Gimp Fist – “Isolation”

Despite being British, I never really bonded with UK punk music when I was younger. It wasn’t my sound, it wasn’t my history. To me The Pistols were a cliché of what punk was meant to be and I never truly invested in the growing British punk scene, favouring more accessible American bands over local heroes, much to my detriment.

Gimp Fist though. Gimp? Fist? Those two words alone make me a little uncomfortable, together they make a threat of something quite unpleasant, and naïvely the name makes me think this is something I should avoid, but the singer in my band has several Gimp Fist T-shirts so I persevere, and through perseverance we find strength, as despite the name, Gimp Fist truly are a hidden gem of British street punk. 

Isolation is the eighth album from Gimp Fist. Over fifteen tracks they show no indication of slowing down, and whilst its immediately recognisable as Gimp Fist, there’s no negativity in being more of the same. No prizes for guessing the inspiration for the title, this being the first album since 2019’s Blood, but the band haven’t been resting, playing all over the country, a slot on the “…Calling” one day festival with the Ruts DC and eight other bands, that travels the UK and an upcoming set at the huge four day punk festival, Rebellion.

Jonny, Mike and Chris have a solid reputation for producing sing along, working class anthems across their back catalogue and are well regarded by all who see them. Having seen the band perform numerous times I’m well aware of the energy they carry, but it was seeing singer Jonny perform solo that really caught my attention to the strength of the song writing behind the music. The driving bass and drums of the full band just pushes this forward harder.

The opening track, “Ambition” starts with a stern telling off from an embittered wife before exploding into a clear statement of the bands feeling around any criticism of lack of drive or determination, and who doesn’t enjoy singing along with a hearty “I don’t give a fuck”? This one really sets the tone for the rest of the album. The anger of earlier Gimp Fist is still there, still presented with sing along choruses, and a surprisingly big sound for a three piece, but the anger feels more personal, more targeted. I’d hate to be on the receiving end of singer Jonny’s pen at the moment. 

The next few songs continue in a similar vein, with sing/shout along chorus, lyrics touching on injustice, identity and integrity in the manner that Gimp Fist fans will be used to. “Fuel To The Fire” brings a big solo, and bigger sound, fit for the larger venues the trio find themselves playing.

The very next song “Skinhead Heart” follows the tradition of setting out the staples of skinhead punk imagery in song, but in a mocking manner, for the unnamed skin with “all the gear, but no idea”.

Though there is nothing particularly new to the songs on this album, that is not a bad thing in of itself. Street punk is hardly a genre open to evolution, development or change. What Gimp Fist provides, is more of what the fans want, keeping the genre alive and making accessible, enjoyable and memorable music for punks everywhere.

Album closer, “Bring on the Good Times” feels like an optimistic end to isolation, lockdown and the nightmare of the last few years, let’s hope things keep getting better, both for the band and for everyone.

Available now from Sunny Bastards.

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