Homebrew's 'The Heart of Insurrection' is oldschool, cider-swilling punk rock with galloping drums, spiky riffing and bunged-up vocals aplenty. If you're a fan of DIY punk gigs, or grotty local music venues, then this is the album for you.
'The Heart of Insurrection' starts off as it means to go on, with the thoroughly enjoyable, rough-and-ready 'Youth of Today.'
The punk staples of breakneck riffs, careening drumbeats, snotty vocals, and a shout-along chorus where the main vocals ricochet off gang backing vocals, are all present. However, 'Youth of Today' does have a handful of original flourishes that boost it a notch above what you might expect to hear down your local, sticky-floored punk venue. These innovative touches include a chorus where the riffs occasionally peel away from the drumbeats and slow down, creating a 'winding-down' effect. There's also a menacing, pre-chorus build-up where frontman Dave Albatros lowers his voice and growls "the kids in this town / try and push us around" in a surprisingly sinister manner. 'Youth of Today' is uncomplicated, good old fashioned punk rock, with added extras.
With its galloping drums, sawing guitars and incoherent yelling, 'Human Nature' follows firmly in 'Youth of Today's footsteps, although a final, additional boost in the speed department would make it even more fun to listen to.
The same can be said for 'Nothing To You' which is a fast punk song that falls just short of riot-inducing speeds. It ploughs a slightly more mainstream furrow than much of 'The Heart of Insurrection,' with some of the riffs sounding oddly reminiscent of The Offspring's 'Original Prankster.' Still, its focus on melody and catchiness, shows a refreshingly different side to Homebrew.
While lack of flat-out punk velocity may make 'Human Nature' and 'Nothing To You' good songs, rather than great, the final third of this album is the sound of a band who've suddenly realised they want nothing more than to play fast, fun songs that'll get people dancing, singing, and generally having a great time.
The party kicks off with 'Streetlight Riot.' Bouncing gleefully along on springy drumbeats, Homebrew then crack out the shouty gang vocals for a chorus and a wonderfully jumbled end-section, and both sound nothing short of euphoric.
The verses keep things straightforward, with a simple riff juddering back and forth across the drums, and putting a kooky spin on that smile-inducing backing beat. If 'Streetlight Riot' is punk rock's call to arms, then the revolution is going to be lots of fun.
And the good times continue, with 'Why Don't You...' which has an hilariously straight-to-the-point opening line. It's not big and it's not clever but, with its gang shouts of "oi! Oi! Oi!" and expletive-riddled chorus, this is one song that's designed to be sung - and, more importantly, sung along to - in the live environment.
Like 'Why Don't You...,' 'Celebrity Stalker' has a definite 'written to be played live' vibe, although this time, the fists-in-the-air chant takes the form of "hey! Hey! Hey!" rather than "oi! Oi! Oi!"
Skating along on a fast-flowing stream of drums and coarse punk riffing, 'Celebrity Stalker' is that brand of punk that's fast and fun, rather than fast and furious.
The rasping 'Gods & Monsters' has the speed, but not quite the coherency, as the drummer and the guitarist occasionally seem to be playing completely different songs. This is most obvious during the verses, where the abrasive guitars doll out hammer-like blows, while the drums clatter on regardless. If it wasn't for those messy drumbeats, the verses would be a rare moment of single-minded intensity. On the rare occasions where the drums and the guitars do work together, 'Gods & Monsters' is riotous punk of the fast and furious variety, and the slightly messy, chaotic edge works to its advantage.
Anti-war sentiments and punk have always gone hand in hand, and 'Bombs In Your Back Yard' is 'The Heart of Insurrection's obligatory anti-war anthem.
The chorus is a passionate plea for pacifism, with socially-aware lyrics delivered in an urgent, semi-sung fashion. Homebrew just about manage to get away with this smoother style of delivery, which is lucky, considering Dave Albatros has your atypically tuneless, snot-nosed punk voice. However, Homebrew then go and spoil it by stripping the bridge down to basics, which exposes the vocals to far too much scrutiny. While shouty, thick vocals are a big part of punk rock, they're still not pleasant when listened to in isolation.
Beyond the subject matter, 'Bombs In Your Back Yard' pushes the boundaries of the oldschool, no-frills punk genre, with verses of innovative, pulsing chords, and a funky bridge of slick drum licks and twitchy guitars.
'Holding Cell' and 'Same Old Story' continue Homebrew's efforts to bring originality to a rather restrictive genre. 'Same Old Story's backbone is a twitchy, angular beat that's emulated by different combinations of instruments throughout the song. Initially, it's laid down by a one-two suckerpunch of rumbling drumbeats and pulsing chords but, before repetition takes the edge off this quirky beat, Homebrew switch to softly rattling drums and guitars that crunch along to that bone-popping rhythm.
On the downside, 'Same Old Story' completely abandons that distinctive backing beat during the bridge section, in favour of the usual punk drum-clatter, but it redeems itself by returning to that initial beat, soon after.
'Holding Cell' has a bass-heavy slant, and consequently a deeper, darker sound than much of this album, while an overlay of shivery-edged chords gives it the usual Homebrew energy.
But, it's back to straight-to-the-point punk for album-closer 'Out Of Spite.' Its galloping drums, grinding riffs and incoherent yelling whips past the listener at one hundred miles an hour, and the sheer velocity makes it difficult to resist. True, this sort of spiky, flat-out, drum-led racket has been done a million and one times before, but when punk is played with this much energy, enthusiasm and speed, you won't be thinking of how many times you've heard this all before: you'll be too busy enjoying yourself.
'The Heart of Insurrection' has a 'DIY punk' vibe that you'll either love or hate. If you like your punk glossy, well-produced, and with sing-along, pop-infused choruses ala modern day Rise Against, Anti-Flag and Billy Talent, then Homebrew aren't going to be your cup of tea. However, if your ideal night out is checking out a few punk bands down your local, then Homebrew's clattering punk and bunged-up vocals, might just be worth checking out.