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Civil Villains - 'Snake Oil' EP Review


1. Red Hands

2. Gargoyles

3. Dead Still

4. Soapbox

5. Siren Bound

I seem to be stuck in a late 80s/early 90s revival at the moment. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a bad thing. After extolling the virtues of False Advertising the other week I am now going to tell you about a very nifty EP. from the band Civil Villains, which conjures a sound reminiscent of early 90s style Art Rock.

The Ep opens up with ‘Gargoyles’. It’s angular, it’s Stint-like and has a Monochrome Set style vocal delivery. The rhythm is manic, it stops, it starts. There are cries of ‘Mayday, Mayday’ and I’m hooked - attention is well and truly grabbed.

Then we’re hit with a Tom-heavy beat and ‘Red Hands’ is underway. There is something Wire-like about this one. A very pissed off Wire, actually a very pissed off Wire stuck in a lift having a fight with Nomeansno. Cool.

The Villains (as all the cool kids will call them), get on their ‘Soapbox’ for the third track. I’m doing my best to follow the time signature changes, I really am. I’m imaging this one live….No actually I’m trying to imagine having to play this one live. There is cold sweat on my brow.

‘Siren Bound’ is very much in Slint territory. It has a great shouty vocal delivery and is lyrically spot on. Some people might label this Math-Rock. They’ve got their sums wrong, it’s far too visceral for that.

The EP ends with ‘Dead Still’ where the bass player is trying to wring every ounce of distortion out of that pedal! The most uncontrolled track on here. Brutal. And hang on, this is 5 minutes long and the intensity never wavers.

Overall, a great little EP. Yes, the influences are worn brazenly on their sleeves, but hey, they are great influences after all. Keep an eye out for this band, go see ‘em live, just don’t try to dance - you ain’t gonna keep up with those time signature changes!!

Review - David Hancox

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