Attrition brings together two punk bands from opposing sides of the Atlantic Ocean—England’s Police Bastard and the United States' War//Plague. Most of the material was recorded at various points in 2009 but not released on vinyl until May of 2011, when Profane Existence Records pressed up a couple thousand slabs of wax to unleash to patched-up masses.
Former members of punk luminaries such as Doom, English Dogs and Contempt make up Birmingham’s Police Bastard. Their side of the record is a newer version of a previously released CD-only outing called It’s Good To Hate. There are two covers included—Rudimentary Peni’s “Blasphemy Squad” and The Mob (UK)’s “I Wish.” Neither of which are done convincingly enough to warrant an argument for their inclusion here. In fact “I Wish” is repurposed into some sort of emo-punk song that could have been picked right off of Jawbreaker’s Dear You album. Not what you’d expect, yet kind of indicative of Police Bastard’s side as a whole—pretty tame stuff actually. The rest of their tracks are a lot like any number of Behind Enemy Lines’ songs—good messages, but kind of an annoying delivery.
War//Plague is from Minneapolis, MN and is made up of veterans of that scene—members having previously played in bands like Pontius Pilate, Provoked and Scorned, among others. It’s hard to pinpoint their sound exactly, as they swim in the coagulated genre scum pond that is modern day crust, but also do a fragment of D-beat the way it was done in the ‘80s and ‘90s—the guitars are lower in the mix but not buried, and the vocals, while gruff, are clear enough that you can understand the lyrics. This is where I would add an obligatory Amebix reference, as these are very Baron-esque vocals. There are faint bits of droning tribalism at play here as well. This is the kind of crust you can fall asleep to. And I mean that in totally complimentary way. Call it post-ambient black metal crust-core, if you will. All of these elements are encapsulated masterfully on a lengthy track called “Concrete Burns.” Many of the lyrics center on recognizing the wrongs of the world, and in turn fostering positivity in bleak times—it’s not the stereotypical post-apocalyptic doom-n-gloom you’d think to associate with a band that calls themselves War//Plague. A good example of this is the songs “The Sheep,” in which the chorus goes,“Life is shit/Death is a disease/But it’s not how long you live/It’s how you live your life.” This impressive grip of tracks is far superior to Police Bastard's side.
If this were an EP of just the War//Plague songs it would warrant a higher rating, but unfortunately the mediocrity of the Police Bastard side makes Attrition a rather lopsided affair.
6.0 / 10
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