This is a review of "Halcyon Days" recorded by Sounds Of Swami. The review was written by Jessica Thornsby in 2009.
Keighley's Sounds of Swami don't hang about on 7" 'Halcyon Days,' blasting through six songs in seventeen minutes. The average running time is between one minute, and one minute and a half, but Sounds of Swami still manage to pack a fair amount into each track, by playing everything at triple speed. Consequently, by the end of those seventeen minutes, you'll either be an exhausted, nervous wreck, or be having the time of your life and hitting the repeat button.
The 'Halcyon Days' rocket blasts off with the fantastically-titled 'Briefcase of Ignorance,' one and a half minutes of hardcore-influenced punk with a melodic undercurrent that's not immediately obvious.
Tearing along on manic drumbeats, 'Briefcase of Ignorance' ricochets between shouty singular vocals, shouty gang vocals, backing vocals, main vocals and a crackly voiceover. The vocal ricochet alone will leave your head spinning. Squeezed inbetween these whiplash vocals, is the occasional semi-sung, tuneful vocal hook that ensures this song's frightening and addictive in equal measures.
'Lapels' places less emphasis on velocity. In comparison to 'Briefcase of Ignorance,' 'Labels' has a more poised feel, with rumbling drumbeats, lurching riffs and some longer, smoother guitar lines. It's a coiled, darker and more subtly gnashing take on the hardcore-punk sound.
'Look At Me' is perhaps the most interesting song on this EP. Sounds of Swami lay unexpectedly smooth and melodic vocals over a spiky punk-rock clatter and pedal-to-the-metal drumbeats. You'll be unsure whether to concentrate on those euphoric vocals, or the anger that's raging beneath. In the end, you'll probably keep switching between the two. Sounds of Swami have pulled off a small miracle in making this song work.
The verses of 'Bandwagon hi-jack' see Sounds of Swami lose some of their melodic edge, and begin to sound a bit messy. Things quickly pick up though, as the band unfurl some longer, classier riffs for the chorus, and slip into a smoother vocal style.
Thankfully, although 'Bandwagon hi-jack' keeps returning to those clattering, hardcore-influenced passages, it never quite becomes as incoherent as on that first verse.
Both the EPs longest and most structurally complex song, 'Bandwagon hi-jack' lacks the simple punk thrust of this EPs more straightforward tracks. Sounds of Swami are at their best when they blast out one-minute-odd nerve-rattlers.
And this is exactly what they do with 'The Clue is in The Title,' a one minute and one second long jumble of riotous, punk-influenced sound that would be completely unlistenable if it was half a minute longer.
Their guitarist bashes out some random, abrasive riffs that are like someone taking a cheese grater to your bones, and the vocals are completely impenetrable. But, this burst of frothing-at-the-mouth vocals and sand-paper riffing, is an enjoyable sucker punch - and Sounds of Swami were spot-on, keeping it so short.
'Your Name Not Here' is surprisingly varied for a hardcore-influenced song. The latter part of the verses may make the formulaic hardcore clatter, splattered with plenty of shouty punk vocals, but the first half alternates between a military drumbeat and some nastily-churning riffing that's surprisingly complex.
The chorus takes a more punkish route, with a head-spinning vocal ricochet similar to 'Briefcase of Ignorance.' Main, backing and gang vocals, all fly around like shrapnel. Added to this are galloping drumbeats and lightening riffs, in a combination that's guaranteed to get the adrenaline flowing.
'Halcyon Days' is hardcore-punk that's played flat-out from the opening notes, to the closing bars of the final track. The vocal interplay is dizzying, and Sounds of Swami never over-complicate matters by trying to expand on their ideas. This is six shots of adrenaline-fuelled punk, and Sounds of Swami must have laid waste to a fair few DIY punk shows with tracks like these in their arsenal.