EP review: Borstal – At Her Majesty’s Pleasure
In some ways Borstal are as quintessentially British as Ray Winstone battering Phil Daniels with a couple of snooker balls in a sock. They’re a supergroup formed by UK hardcore and metal veterans, the most prominent of whom are Knuckledust frontman Pierre Mendivil and current Brujeria and one-time Cradle Of Filth drummer Nick Barker. Guitarist Lee Kitchener’s dad is Arthur Kitchener of Oi! legends The Last Resort, and a stomping great cover of that band’s King Of The Jungle brings this six-track debut EP to a close.
Up until that point, however, this is a collection that sounds like it originated three-and-a-half thousand miles across the Atlantic, and maybe three-and-a-half decades back in time. As the extended intro of Refuse To Lose gives way to the sledgehammer riffs and call-and-response refrains, it evokes classic no-frills New York hardcore, with the spirit of bands like Agnostic Front and Sick Of It All looming large.
‘Hardcore’s in our DNA/ We work all night and every day/ In blood, sweat, tears we pay,’ bellows Pierre on We Stand As One. As the title suggests it’s a typical unity anthem, complete with big gang chorus chants. Karma rides on a huge chugging groove and Vicious Circles provides speedy pit-fodder. It’s all hugely effective and executed with just the right mixture of passion and precision. None of this is going to challenge the likes of Vein.fm or Knocked Loose when it comes to redefining hardcore for the 21st Century, but if you’re looking for traditional NY-styled action done well, Borstal could be your boys.
For Fans Of: Sick Of It All, Madball, Knuckledust
At Her Majesty’s Pleasure is out now via 4 Family Records.
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