Ska-punk comes in many guises: some favor an approach that is heavy on the chicka chicka guitar sound and this has a relatively lighter tone than the opposite end of the spectrum, where that sound is much less prevalent and there is more emphasis on creating a thicker, beefier sound around big, almost metal like chords and rumbling drums.
It is this latter style that this Milton Keynes-based outfit uses and musically it does so pretty well. I saw them live last year on a bill headlined by the Voodoo Glowskulls with an undercard of three more ska-punk based bands, all of which provided a slight variation on the genre. I do remember that during Anti Vigilante's set I found that big guitar sound appealing but what I had forgotten was how annoying I had found the vocals. Unfortunately I have a low tolerance level for people affecting an accent that is not their own and that is the case with Josh Chandler-Morris's vocals, a man who sounds as if he comes from the West Indies or somewhere else that is a long way from Milton Keynes.
Whilst this doesn't detract totally from the music, on the first six or so listens I found myself not really being able to take on board any of the lyrics which didn't help with my initial views. However, on further plays and with the lyrics at hand, something seemed to come together and whilst I still found the style in which most of the lyrics were delivered in annoying, Anti Vigilante is obviously a band with head and heart in the right place and that can overcome quite a lot.
My favorite track both musically and lyrically is "Be on the Watch" (taken from a Charles Bukowskj poem), in which the misguided ideas of what is beautiful, or more specifically accepted and portrayed as beautiful, in respect of the female form is clearly attacked. This track is a nice bedfellow for Crazy Arm's "All Men Are Butchers" and it's refreshing to hear bands taking this standpoint when large parts of society are sucked into thinking and acting in a certain way, one which demeans and puts down women. If they make one person question how they view masculinity, femininity and/or the notion of beauty then that's a positive.
Having searched the Internet for more information on the band, it appears that this is the first release since the band's original drummer lost his fight against stomach cancer. I can only guess at the discussions that might have occurred in terms of whether the band continues, and it has to be to Anti Vigilante's credit that they come through that difficult time.
Ska-punk is very popular and it's something I listened to a lot of when I was younger. However, it's not something I actively seek out these days and it might be Operation Ivy, Lightyear or some Less Than Jake (they had some pretty good moments) that I turn to. However, this might get pulled out for the occasional listen and on the whole it's a good release although the vocals still irk me and this is what prevents Tempest getting three and a half stars