The Almighty – Welcome To Defiance (Complete Recordings 1994 – 2001)
(HNE Recordings / Cherry Red Records – 2021)
As it says on the box, all the recordings from those dates that goes from 'Crank' right through to 'Psycho-Narco' with some B-sides, Live cuts and Remixes thrown in to fatten it up more too.
'Crank' (1994) is very heavy deep, distortive and bass heavy with cuts like the hard-hitting opener 'Ultraviolence' which I would have thought was called 'Nothing Left To Prove'. There's a good ballsy rocker in 'Jonetown Mind' and some tongue in cheek brutality in 'United State Of Apathy'. An album full of hardcore like blastings just about like someone is hurling rocks and glass at you from the speakers a lot of the time since it's relentless and rather one trick pony but ends on this disturbing guitar-distorting & piano filled instrumental entitled 'Shitzophrenic' which is a real contrast to this very samey like album. (5)
'Just Add Life' (1996) appears to have more going for it and does not come across rushed through like the previous effort does with opener 'Ongoing And Total' having grunge and new-wave'ness blended into one that could have been called 'Stay Out Of It' as it's repeated a lot in the song. Great number in the gripping pop-punk of 'Do You Understand' or 'All Sussed Out' with part of the riff reminding me of a famous Neil Young classic. 'Dead Happy' has a biting riff and almost sing-a-long chorus with '8 Day Depression' being very likeable too. There's some cooking bass-work in 'Independent Deterrent' too that closes the album. (7)
The self-titled album 'The Almighty' from 2000 starts off really good with 'Broken Machine' and continues with cracking strong rocker 'I'm In Love (With Revenge)'; the Be-Bop-A-Lula filled 'Big Black Automatic' and other standouts like the powerful 'Stop' & the cleverly titled 'USAK-47' and 'Fat Chance' with it's mention of lobotomy – lol! A good album (8)
'Psycho-Narco' very much goes into Americana related things of cars, guns, Hollyweird like stuff etc with cuts such as '427 Freak Horsepower' and is really well recorded and mastered; the scary realistic 'Begging' about a guy stuck in prison' or the ballad that is 'Waiting For Earthquakes' that even mentions John Lennon! Then there's the fast punk-pop of 'Big Idea / Idiot' or fast-placed drum slapping closer 'Million Times Nothing'. An almost part two of the self-titled effort with similar masterful qualities (8)
'Crank And Deceit – Live In Japan' (1995) is exactly that... a live show from that particular oriental part of the world that showcases where they were at, at the time with plenty of ferocious riffery and fastness to please the Japanese, opening with the relentless 'Jonestown Mind' and later a personal fave of mine in 'Addiction'.
Other highlights including 'Takin' Hold' with its masterful riff and in-your-face chorus or 'United State Of Apathy' where Ricky teases the crowd with 'Funkytown' or the band's old classic 'Wild And Wonderful' or the belting 'Welcome To Defiance' or the closing Motorhead Overkillish 'Crucify' especially where the drums are concerned. Only thing that baffles me is that 'Free 'N' Easy' is not in the set list – unless the band were bored with it at that moment in time. An okay live outing . (7)
The CD, 'B-Sides & Remixes' (1994-1996) has been specially put together for this box as has 'Live B-Sides & Sessions' with the former having killer songs in 'Knocking On Joe'; a grand cover of Eddie And The Hot Rods 'Do Anything You Wanna Do' and 'DSS (Desperately Seeking Something)'. The Jonestown Mind Ruts Remix ain't a bad listen either. (7)
The latter CD culminates a ton of live tracks together some good and some rather sloppy with bad notes thrown out there that come from the 'Crank' Tour – it's jam packed solid with f's and f'ings and the odd good number lime 'Addictive' and 'United States Of Apathy'. Love the cover of 'I Fought The Law' too or 'I Fould The Law' as it's misspelled on the cd wallet. (7)
All in all not a bad boxed set but I get a feeling the band were treading the boards at times. Some material comes across really good and other material like filler that's rushed with on a tight timescale performances. I recommend it though especially if you are missing a few of their Sanctuary releases from back in the day.
By Glenn Milligan