Album review: Death Lens – Cold World

LA punks Death Lens bristle with determination but don’t quite detonate on uneven fourth album…

Album review: Death Lens – Cold World
Emma Wilkes

Somewhere in Death Lens’ DNA is a smouldering rebel spirit. With a strong social conscience shaped by living with the threat of violence from both gangs and the police, they’ve percolated their eclectic alt. punk sound slowly over almost a decade having originally started life as an instrumental outfit. Now on their fourth record, they’ve got fire in their guts thanks to developing a surer idea of where they’re headed. But oddly for a band this deep in the game, it feels like they’re a few barrels of gunpowder short.

There’s plenty of decently strong songs here, at least – the skittering, rumbling Fucked Up makes being disillusioned with love sound like a riot and is dying to be shouted along to, while the bouncing Vacant prickles with hardcore spirit and a tremendous catchiness. Limousine, meanwhile, switches things up with a brooding chug, a sense of danger seeping into its down-tuned chords.

Disturb The Peace also punches hard, rattling and squalling as it transports listeners to a scene of civil disobedience, but it feels like it’s saying more than it actually does – 'You better run, there’s nowhere to go / Burn down the house, a Molotov cocktail explodes / Revelation takes place' – and its lack of specificity means it never really sets alight.

The other issue is that, if the LA quintet had chopped this in two and made an EP out of the record’s first half, they’d perhaps be in better shape. In the second half, the momentum begins to lag, with the likes of Memory Hotline and the title-track leaning too hard on cruise control, likeable enough but with a risk of becoming wallpaper punk without a juicy enough hook or lyrics that have more to say than they frequently do.

It’s a little frustrating sometimes that it doesn’t always sound as arresting as it promises to early on. At the moment, they’re maybe just not yet on full power.

Verdict: 3/5

For fans of: Militarie Gun, Soul Glo, Teenage Wrist

Cold World is out now via Epitaph

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