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When you're 16 and the world just pisses you off at every turn, then heavy music is pretty much your only companion. You get older, not necessarily grown-up, just older and the world pisses you off just every other day and you broaden your listening. Every now and again you pick up one of those heavier albums, the sheer intensity and every chord is a cathartic blast through you. But you’re listening a bit differently, and you see that heavy doesn't need to be singular and just about loud. You explore, finding The Clash, Fugazi, Therapy?, X, Black Flag, Refused, Leatherface, Hundred Reasons; and with 'Mother’s Ruin' Max Raptor now sit in this electric group. Where polemic is tempered with acute social observation. Where each song, regardless of its brutality has accessibility, dynamics and colourings that grow deeper with each listen. You can take 'Mother’s Ruin' on a singular level and be rewarded by its power or you can search deeper and the rewards are so much greater.
As a perfect example and mission statement look no further than opener 'Back of A Barrel Wave'. Angular, raw, post-hardcore guitar greets you, and then your breath is pummelled out as the whole song body-slams into you. Then when you think this is just a wall-of-death opener, Max Raptor show their class and switch tempos, change stance and 'Back…' stomps, dances, switches back between hardcore chants to Frank Turner-style open-heart howl, and then onto the intense finish. "You want to impress the world, get a wife and a good credit score", is one of the most astute opening lines of any song this year, and so we are into 'Taming Of The Shrewd'. You are grabbed into its world with that line, and then your head is snapped up and down, as the song baits you not to dance until you collapse. It's an effortless example of constructing a song that hits in so many ways. Where the impact of the music is matched by the scything insight of the lyrics. It also has an irresistible chorus that you can hear a thousand voices screaming back.
With a deliciously melodic riff running through it, 'England Breathes' has an instant appeal that doesn't dim with repeated plays. It is lighter in its touch, but no less impactful. This allows clarity to the lyrics, which are insightful with a common touch. Max Raptor deftly avoid any right-wing implications that are so often inferred upon any song with "England" in the title. It is social commentary on the diversity and ability of the country to embrace and evolve society, heading us all forward shoulder to shoulder. A remarkably impressive song. 'Grace And Favours' sits on a near stoner groove, adding a irresistible flavour that means you will have your arms around your mate, with sweat dripping off both of you and the walls, as you both sing every word. After almost peerless quality of the preceding tracks, 'Breakers' somehow feels slightly generic. It has a huge chorus, but it seems to lack the spark that has lit the rest of the album. But you can still pogo like a bastard to it. Initially 'Evangeline' felt that it was going to suffer like 'Breakers' but it has a hook that simply embeds in you and won’t let go, then it changes its stance, grabs your attention and you just surrender to it’s towering nature.
So we are finally allowed a rest with 'Heavy Heart'. Already I'm sure that Max Raptor are bored of a certain Frank comparison on this song. Whatever it may remind you of, this is a song with grace and epic scope. In other hands it could have gone all Bon Jovi, but its utter honesty and heartfelt nature means that it is simple a great song. And so into 'Mother’s Ruin''s closing chapter. 'Must Work Harder' instantly hits you, it takes a second or two to get back into the groove after the expanse of 'Heavy Heart', but it has perhaps one of the album's most danceable grooves and spills out as another stand-out on the album. It climaxes perfectly. Urgent, vibrant title-track 'Mother’s Ruin' embodies all that is outstanding about Max Raptor. Final song 'Pioneers' is no slow album closer, it is a modern punk song that grabs you, shakes you, embraces you and dares you not to enjoy. It's a song Billy Joe Armstrong would give his left bollock to write these days. Or any day, the perfect end to the album. Max Raptor, with 'Mother’s Ruin', have stamped their mark in true style. These boys transcend genres and in doing so are carving out a template to conquer the world.
Max Raptor's website
Buy the album
Catch them live:
Oct 13 The Boileroom, Guildford, UK
Oct 14 The Flapper, Birmingham, UK
Oct 15 The Black Heart, London, UK
Oct 17 The Venue, Derby, UK
Nov 17 Alexandra Palace, London, UK
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