Let's get a few things straight before we start this review. I've not listened to this album the whole way through. I've tried, I've really tried, but it's not happening. But that doesn't stop me from being in a position to review this album. In fact, the fact it's so fucking unlistenable that more than three songs in one go is a harrowing listen says more about this album than any carefully chosen words after careful listens could ever say. It really is as bad as the cover art.
Who are Slaves? No, not slaves, as in the slave trade. As in the millions upon millions of blacks people enslaved by the British empire. No, not slaves, as in the dehumanised soon-to-be candles of the Romans. No, not slaves, as in the countless instances of slavery still existing in the 21st century. Here we have Slaves, with a big S. Two top lads from Tunbridge Wells, Kent, who are like, slaves, to ummm, their record company? Well, these are the Slaves this review's going to focus on. Maybe it's time to review the actual music, rather than discuss how lame (as well as arguably offensive, but now it's really time to move onto the actual music) their name is. So here we go: Cheeky Nando's punk (sorry, Gino, I stole your description) is gonna be put once and for all under my musical microscope.
Slaves' Take Control has a great number of awful pastiches of gritty east end punk rock, for people that drive BMWs to put on in their car stereo on their way to their law firm to feel like they're doing their bit to stop the reign of capitalism. "We're all Slaves to capitalism, man." "Whoa bro, that's deep, man." Among the worst moments on this album are Same Again, a song with no discernible structure, riff, or substance, underneath the band's snarly, hyper masculine exterior, and Consume or Be Consumed, a song which the singer raps, with the effect being much more Limp Bizkit than Rage Against The Machine - who told them they should do more songs like that godawful Shutdown cover?!
The lead single is called Spit It Out, and even without any rapping it feels much more like Limp Bizkit than any serious punk bands. The singles on their first, admittedly plain, album have catchy hooks and moments where the balance between cartoon imagery and classic punk ethos are kind of at a decent equilibrium. But that's not at play here. There's no fun to be had; no Where's Your Car Debbie or Hey. Just moments of pure cringe (yep, this album's made me convert cringe from a verb to a noun, it's that bad) and needless depthless snarling.
I know what you're thinking; Cal, it can't be that bad, surely? To that I say "it really is. There's a song where the only lyrics are "fuck the hi-hat". I know what else you're thinking, too; Cal, come on. It's probably just not to your taste, you shoegazing ponce. To that I say "it should be to my taste, I'm a young punk fan that listened to this, and was so grossed out I had to put the Dead Kennedys' Fresh Fruit album on to help me recover. If it's not for young punk fans, who is this album for?"
At this point in the review, I'm realising I've not really said a great deal about this album, but trying to listen to a whole Slaves album more than once is definitely a Louis Theroux moment. I don't know what I've just heard, but I know it's time to leave. In summation: this album is so bad that if you've read a reviewer that can get through it, you shouldn't trust them. It's just another strangely clean produced major label-released album, with as much political depth as The Tweenies, on which Laurie and Isaac from Tunbridge Wells show us all how punk should be done. Banging.
Words: Cal Cashin