Post-hardcore has lost its direction in recent years. With every Tom, Dick and Craig Owens vying to break down boundaries and expectations, how is anyone supposed to stand out? London quartet Radio Alcatraz hold the answer – meaningful, extraordinarily talented tracks that wouldn't sound out of place on a Tony Hawk's game soundtrack.
The follow up to their self-released, self-recorded debut, the sarcastically-titled It's All Coming Up Roses is testament to Radio Alcatraz's progress, with guest spots including Jamie Lenman and Liam Cormier of Cancer Bats. As much as this faith in their success is proved to be well-placed, the album could certainly have survived without them. Coming straight from their own Radio Alcatraz Music label, the record raises a defiant middle finger to the artificially-generated music scene as in the opening track ‘Industry Has Failed, Activate The Black Magic’. There’s no denying Radio Alcatraz’s seething message to the money-hungry industry accompanied by reflective melodies and expertly complex drum work.
"Take the wind out of their sails", frontman Simon Griffiths cries, whose storming vocals combine both the solemnity and pleading of post-hardcore but the desperation and anger of its hardcore predecessors throughout. Consider this album the genetic combination of early MCR and even earlier Green Day that pop-punk fans would've sold their souls for. Throughout each track, it’s possible to hear every second of effort put into the composition and performance, exemplifying Radio Alcatraz’s combined talent. The apathetic agony of ‘Get In The Back Of The Car’ meets the call to arms of ‘Saturday Night Stick Up’ to forge a towering achievement in post-hardcore – standing out from the crowd. ‘Holiday In A Police State’s scathing condemnation of modern life told to the tune of a tricksy riff and Daniel Wheeldon’s jaw-dropping leading drums leads into ‘To The End’, the record’s gorgeous melodic shift as a nod to fans of the slower side of things.
In contrast, ‘Exchanging Hunting Tips With The Devil’ perfects the combination of Zebrahead-esque energised punk and Hawthorne Heights’ grittiness. Contagious punk rock “yeah” chants aplenty, the album’s lyrical work is something to admire – “stick em up, it's their money, it's your life” will surely become a roof-raising chant at live shows. ‘Henry VIII’ lives up to its namesake - punishing, venomous bloodlust which perfectly complements ‘Sleeping Limb’, the record’s epic 7 minute closer, which bides its time before jaws drop to the floor when Liam Cormier’s guest vocals add a dose of menace to an overall colossal record.
London needs and deserves a reinvigoration of punk rock, and Radio Alcatraz are incredibly talented and worthy torch-bearers for such a fragile, temperamental legacy.