County Fermanagh, nestled in the south-western corner of Northern Ireland and in the elbow crook of its border, is the Province’s equivalent of the Lake District – a haven of quiet and tranquillity, a place of outstanding natural beauty which serves as a retreat away from the hustle and bustle of urban life… In the 30 plus years of violence which rent through that tiny part of the world, it was also the scene of some of the most violent acts committed during what is retrospectively referred to as ‘the Troubles’.
Now, a further decade or so after the ceasefires and peace agreements that have brought a new found era of prosperity, the brutality has returned – this time in the shape of the five young lads who make up traditional hardcore thrash merchants Visceral Attack.
The quintet’s debut album, ‘Quick And Severe’ – a title which more or less describes what lies in the grooves of the 12 tracks – was originally recorded way back in January 2010 and was initially sold only at gigs: now, more than two years later – and despite two personnel changes, including the departure of vocalist Michael McManus – the opus has now been picked up by new Belfast label Punkerama Records, who have re-released a limited edition of the CD ahead of a full scale vinyl version to come later in the year.
While the album title may be symbolic of the material, so is the band’s monicker, as this is literally a visceral attack, from the battering rhythms of drummer Thomas Gallagher and (now also departed) bassist Shaun Bannon, through the snarling, snapping guitars of Adam McCormack and Aidan Ingram to the anger-fuelled lyrics – which set the tone from the very beginning with the rant of “I hate everyone and everything/I don’t give a fuck what you think” of the sick opener, ‘Fuck Wit VA Day (And Nobody’s Celebratin’)’.
In the best tradition of the genre, VA combine vicious political and social commentary – such as ‘Enjoy Your Stay At Guantanamo Bay’, ‘Money In The Bank’, a vitriolic attack on the Irish government (and one that could be applied to many others in the current climate), from its doctored opening sample from a speech in the Dublin Parliament through it’s “it doesn’t matter to you” challenge, ‘The United States Of Europe’, with its challenge to “throw away your culture”, ‘Crime Is Of The Essence’ and the confrontational ‘Cop = Cunt’ – with pure party tunes, such as ‘Special Brewtality’ and ‘Eye Of The Beerholder’.
The individual musicians’ performances are accomplished and more than credible, with lead guitarist Ingram showing a nifty line in solos, especially on the likes of the excellent ‘Spikedeath’, and the breakneck (well, they know other pace) ‘FxTxNxSxBxMx (Fuck The National Socialist Black Metal)’.
The merits of touting an album that has been around for a while – especially with such key line-up changes and a wealth of new material in their live shows – may be dubious, but it has merit in that it has brought both the release and the band back into the spotlight and sets the scene for the next phase of their career, whatever that may be…
A visceral 7/10.
If you want to hear some VA for yourself, you can stream the album on the band’s Facebook page: