The Eighties Matchbox-B-Line Disaster – Blood and Fire

May 22, 2010 by  

Some bands tread a fine line between the genuinely thrilling and the outrageous. Brighton’s Psycho-punk act The Eighties Matchbox-B-Line Disaster are a prime example of this.

Coming to the fore in 2002 with their debut offering ‘Horse of the Dog’, it was clear from the start that this band was anything but conventional. Their combination of bluesy riffs and Guy McKnight’s baritone vocals created an almighty racket. With deranged tracks such as ‘Psychosis Safari’ and ‘Chicken’ (which is unfathomable) it was clear that these songs were not for the faint hearted. Their most conventional straight forward rock song was ‘Celebrate Your Mother’ – yet even this contained lyrics relating to incest. The cartoonish and extreme visual content of their videos, were evident of how alien to the mainstream they were. Not that this bothered their alternative audience and music publication Kerrang! who gave them 5*. To them it was a thrilling whilst almost disturbing listen.

Second album ‘The Royal Society’ built on the template set by the previous release, but consisted of less immediate songs. The singles showed progress though. ‘I Could Be Your Angle’ seemed to banish the extreme content that defined their début, but the frenetic punk of ‘Mister Mental’ conformed to their primary sound.

‘Blood and Fire’, arrives minus band member Andy Huxley, their lead guitarist who left after ‘Royal Society’. The first Single and track off the album ‘Love Turns to Hate’ signals the bands intent. It immediately combines pounding drums, swirling guitar and bluesy riffs, with Guy McKnight’s trademark vocal delivery. However, the chorus heralds another direction with a change of vocal and harmonies, which were not present on former releases. It’s almost like hearing another band and sounds unlike any of their previous material. ‘Mission from God’ is more reminiscent of their debut with its frenetic pace and bluesy riffs, and is one of a small number of the songs that retains the bands primary sound. Elsewhere it seems that in their hiatus the band have been on a diet of ‘80s metal and, surprisingly, Nick Cave’s gothic country blues. Guy’s vocal has become the latter, and is most evident on the Murder Ballads-esque ‘So Long Goodnight’ and ‘Never Be the Same ’.

‘Monsieur Cutts’ sounds a little out of place on this album, with its screamo tones and frenetic drums, it’s totally bonkers and lyrically elusive, as is ‘Man For All Seasons’ which sounds weirdly like Sisters of Mercy. These songs only provide a short break from the blues and gothic punk tone of the album, which ends with the melodic sounding ‘Are You the Living’.

One thing is clear about this album. The new direction of ‘80s metal styles and gothic vocals, represent a fresh combination but do not necessarily benefit the band. The problem with their new direction is that the band has lost their individuality and their ability to thrill and shock at the same time. It is only when they retreat to their prime raw punk sound that they show these elements .This release has pushed them further away from their defining debut and towards the mainstream, which isn’t a good thing for a band who specialise in producing some of the best visceral rock. This album is an interesting listen, but new listeners should seek out their debut to see what this band are really about.

[rating:3]


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