Five years after their triumphant comeback with 2013's 'Land Of Lions'; Essex Ska-Punk 'The Filaments' are back with a brand new record 'Look To The Skies'. A lot has happened in the last five years, political parties have rumbled, financial scandals have emerged and been subsequently brushed over and the country is currently undergoing negotiations to leave the EU. Overseas, Donald Trump has taken office as president of the United States and a string of terror related attacks have generated an upsurge in anti-immigration politics across the globe. Needless to say that the politically motivated 'The Filaments' have taken this all on board and are not afraid to confront these topics head on.
Any concerns that the Essex lads have grown tired or complacent over the years are hastily blown away as opening track 'Fuck The Alt-Right' is an absolute rager of punk rock ferocity. Continuing the heightened aggression from their previous album, the band nail their colours to the wall in less than 90 seconds with an opening statement that wastes no time hammering their message across. This may be the heaviest song on the album, but the anger and aggression is maintained throughout. 'No Men To Parade', 'Tread Carefully' and 'The Verge' all pack a serious punch as they gallop along at tremendous speed, meanwhile the ska infused tracks such as 'Underdogs' and 'Rip-Off World' are seething with anger towards the unfair and often illegal contrast between the richest and poorest in the world. Whereas in previous records, 'Rancid' have been seen as a clear influence on 'The Filaments'; this album leans closer towards 'The Clash'; especially on slow songs like 'Living In The Cross Hairs' and the more musically upbeat 'All We've Ever Known'.
Not every song is a hit; the verses on 'Ask No Favors' come across more like latter day 'Sting' than prime time Joe Strummer and 'Underdogs' descends into an experimental section in the latter half that raises a few eyebrows. Neither are hugely critical misfires though as you can hardly blame the band for trying something new. 'Look To The Skies' may not be quite as raw as 'Land Of Lions', but it is still a commendable follow up. We just hope that we don't have to wait quite as long for album number 5.
Personal Highlight: 'Fuck The Alt-Right' is a magnificently aggressive start to an album filled with anger and disappointment with our current state of affairs. Lyrically throughout the record it is clear that 'The Filaments' know what they are talking about and that this is more than just a couple of bitter punks shouting about "the man".
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