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Small Town Riot started out in 1999, in (as they put it) a shitty suburb Southwest of Hamburg, Germany, playing punk rock how it should be – honest and fun.
They released an 11 track demo (Demolition) in 2002, and since then have released another 4 vinyls/EPs/albums. In 2003, they released their first studio album, Some Serious Shit. Having to replace their original bassist in 2005 didn’t slow them down, and later that year, they recorded another 4 tracks, this time as a vinyl single. Another change in line up, introducing a new bassist, and a 2nd guitarist brings them to where they are today, releasing this, a collection of 16 remastered tracks from their back-catalogue, plus three new tracks.
As soon as you hit play, dual vocalists Norman and Timo’s typically gruff punk vocals hit you like a slap in the face to a masochist – so gnarly you’re addicted from the first note. Opener, and one of the new tracks, ‘Burning Flags’ shows it’s not just American rockers that hate the state their country is in. It’s refreshing to hear this kind of anti-patriotism coming from a non-US band.
In a completely different direction, tracks 2-4 are the love song trilogy from 2008’s Self Titled album. The songs tell a sweet, but sad story of different stages in a relationship – something we can all relate to (even punks feel heartbreak). ‘How Can You Say’ is all about when you first fall in love, when words just can’t deliver your true feelings. Then it all goes sour, as ‘Leave It All Behind’ tells the story of a painful break-up, and ‘Backstreet Story’ depicts the regrets of letting a relationship die. Heartfelt stuff, delivered without a dash of emo, in a pure punk package, as one songs fades into the next as memories of such times seem to do.
‘Living Hell’, another one from their Self Titled, is darker and heavier than most of the other tracks, but the sound still works for STR. The following track, ‘Addicted To Authority’ is as pop-punky as it gets with Small Town Riot, and yet another from their ’08 S/T. Another change in sound, but again, they pull it off flawlessly. The title track of this album, which was originally on ’07s Let The Bombs Fall, is a perfect ad for the band- it’s fast, fun, energetic but most importantly, anthemic – summing up their style in 3 brilliantly crafted minutes. Pure exhibition of their diversity comes in the form of track 7, ‘Living Hell’, and track 8, ‘Addicted To Authority’, with the former being the heaviest and darkest on the CD, and the latter being the pop-punkiest. Put together, they sound even further apart, creating an adept display of their talent to cover every punk sub-genre. More multeity comes in the form of ‘Madness’, a ballad of sorts, with a lone guitar playing to a political, yet emotional, story of a world gone (bloodshed) crazy. Then it’s straight back into the no hold barred breakneck street punk, with ‘Timmy’, from 2006’s Skulls And Stripes.
There’s two tracks about being part of the lower end of the class system, something most punks, from anywhere in the world, can relate to. ‘Working Class Family’ from the S/T and ‘Working Class’ from Let The Bombs Fall both tell the story of growing up in a world that looks down on you. And not giving a shit.
A highlight is another one from Skulls And Stripes, the flawless ‘It’s True’, a sweet little love song, with the heaviest street punk vibe on the record. Cos even tough punk guys can fall head over heels.
A bluesy sound is created with the use of a harmonica on the morose ‘Cemetary Hall’. Adding another string to their black and red striped bow.
It’s back into the energetic punk with the closer, ‘Get Up’, one of their earliest songs, from ’02’s Demolition. A superb way to end one helluva good album.
So there you have it, 19 tracks spanning a 10 year career, marking the beginning of something big for Small Town Riot. So many different styles have been taken and molded into their own unique mix of fast, aggressive and fun punk rock. The faster the better with STR. It might seem like a lot of tracks on one album, but once you’ve heard it, you won’t want it to end.