Skrat caught a lot of notice with their highly acclaimed sophomore effort “Bring Out The Big Guns”. A little under 2 years later, the band’s back with its third album, “The Queen”. Right from the swirling start of the opening track “Machete” you know that this powerhouse punk trio is dishing out something special. Just that the sound is no longer only punk. That second album was marked by a lot of light even if the band played hard. This new one rides on a heavier, darker sound. In places it moves into metal territory, almost – I usually find that line separating hard rock from metal a bourbon blur. There’s a strong political note, a surprising amount of anger on songs like “Revolution” (naturally), “Bang, Bang, Bang”
Do you know what you’re fighting for?
Do you know what you’re dying for?
There is a whole lot of mess waiting in store
For the man that goes in search of war!
What the fuck are you fighting for?
the outright call to arms on “Machete”
Every single piece of hope,
Ripped up and thrown on the floor
White cars and fake plastic flags up in the air,
They don’t care,
Boss pigs boss pigs boss pigs
Hell hounds hell hounds
And I can’t breathe, until they’re broken!
I say surprising because black anger is not something I’d associated with Skrat thus far. Irreverence in huge portions, yes but not this. It’s done well, a different facet revealed. Conviction is a coat that this band wears well and easily. After all these are guys that made “Love is just like snooker/So colourful, but all balls” sound profound.
That said, it’s not as if the album is entirely swathed in dire bleakness. These boys know how to get their audience moving, and wildly at that. They led the release of this album with the enjoyable Black Keys-like stomper called…er “Stomp” and the pace and tone of almost every song here is designed to shake you up, literally. Still, my favourite is the contrarian heavy slow-burn of “Full Monty”, an ode to rock ’n’ roll excess.
Where’s another drink at, where’s another drink at? Come on!
I’m drinking too much and it’s making me sick
I keep telling myself I’m gonna quit
Never again never again never again
Again and again!
Again and again!
Despite the delightful “Choke And Broke”, I haven’t yet been able to wrap my head around the inclusion of that song and “Love Rider” and “Favourite Song” on this album. Variety is nice to have but its insertion has to be exercised carefully. Yes, we love the sun but flashes of sunlight in the middle of night are a bit disturbing. I would rather have seen “Gunslinger Pt. I” from their debut included here as a prelude to the album-ender “Gunslinger II”. That would have been a perfect end and a summation of the ambitiousness that shines through on this album. Ambition that has seen Skrat grow tremendously in these two years that I have followed them. That good 10-year old has matured dramatically into a heady 14-year old malt. Mind you, not with the sweetness of the Speyside but the smoky fullness of the Islay variety. Slainté!