Reviews

Big Cheese, Punishment Park (Quality Control HQ, 2020)

There is a new boss on the docks and their name is Big Cheese! Headquartered in England, the young upstarts are members of a growing clan of dagger toothed were-teens reviving the sound of late '80s East Coast hardcore on the island.

Unlike their contemporaries Higher Power, though, Big Cheese is comfortable in a foothold they have dug out for themselves with the specific nitche of the NYC, thrash-infused, hammer-to-temple hardcore of Rest in Pieces and the Cro-Mags. It's a thin ledge they're perched on, but the narrow notch is all the leverage they need to pounce from the shadows and seize their prey before it can turn tail and leg it. They will strike fast, sever your collar bone, and you drag into darkness. 

Punishment Park is Big Cheese's debut LP, a crowning achievement of their vicious king-of-the-hill making climb to the top. Improving on the blueprint drawn up on their 2016 Sports Day Demo and Aggravated Mopery 7", Punishment Park seethes with a toned, atrocious strength and charging with single-minded purpose, like a human battering ram, into society itself. Is it class consciousness, or nihilistic fury that motivates their assault? Possible a little bit of both.

What's clear is that there won't be much of civilization left for scholars to sift through once the fires of Big Cheese's attack have died down to cinders.  

Punishment Park starts it's gatecrashing party off right with the rolling, wide-birth barrel of roman-fire "Pennine Scrubs." Get your fire extinguisher ready, because your speakers will be belching straight fire for the next 20 minutes. What surprised me most of all about this record, was how much Motörhead's spirit and influence are felt here. Especially on "Heartbreak Ball" and "Tower to the Sun," Lemmy's power towers on these tracks, feeling like an ominous black monolith in the distance, watching you with a mix of intrigue and withering disdain.

Some of the leads here too are too hot to touch, such as the flaming outro of the aforementioned "Tower to the Sun," and spirally, death-defying solos of "Mad at the World" which will singe your eyebrows clean off, leaving you to draw them on for the rest of your life like some kind of circus clown.

Photo: Matt Gabell

Other songs, like the title track and the final sucker-punch "Identity," are pure punk revival, knuckles-to-the-jaw, back-alley brawlers, that call back to both the most pugnacious moments of Sick of It All's and Agnostic Front's discography, with an undercurrent of acid rockin' R&B to give it that extra spike of bloodthirsty excess. 

Punishment Park is a phenomenal LP from a band that sounds like they're on the first leg of an expedition to conquer this little mudball of a planet we share. Get used to their lashes now, because you will be feeling the bite of their whip for many more years to come.

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