This split release features two bands both of which seem to be coming from an anarcho background but with slight variations as to the sound they employ to convey their respective messages.
Up first is Autonomy, who open up with a very Fugazi like track in "Affect Heuristic" which has a melodic, meandering bass line that provides the backbone of the song over which the vocals remind me quite a bit of Guy Picciotto, adding to the comparison. "Ashes to Ashes" kicks off with an intro that brings to mind Hüsker Dü's "Diane" and the bass line weaves its way through the song very much like Greg Norton's did for the Minneapolis trio and additionally it's reminiscent of Stuart Morrow's work in New Model Army back in the 1980s. There is also a dark and atmospheric hue to the song which is punctuated by searing guitars. The Fugazi comparison returns on "Decay Matter" which has a catchy guitar riff pushing the track along efficiently and effectively to conclusion.
The blurb for the record notes that Autonomy are "Crass inspired" but there are a host of other bands that they sound like, with more of a technically adept and fuller sound, which aids and abets the message being conveyed via a gothic, post-punk delivery.
No Sir, I Won't are closer to wearing any Crass inspiration on their sleeves (and not just in the band's name), with a more nostalgic sound featuring more bite to it than Autonomy have. Their opening gambit is "Heroes," a track that really has a sense of the 1980s punk rock I was listening to with a really strong and distinctive guitar at the heart of the song. Vocally too, there is more I hear that has a more direct link to those anarcho bands that were around back then. The next couple of tracks, "Occupy" and "Support Authority," hit my ears in a cacophonous rush reflecting nicely the anger and fight that punk rock was channeling when I was a kid and which is still rumbling around these days thanks to bands like this. I'd put No Sir, I Won't in the same ballpark as Zounds if I were picking any band from my youth, applying some musical ability along with the obvious need to react to the world/system. However, "Working Class Myth" is perhaps the song that is the most Crass-like on this split, and it achieves that through the military-style drumming, the plodding bass ("Bloody Revolutions" anyone?) and the scratchy guitar.
Apparently No Sir, I Won't have changed personnel since these tracks were recorded and that is a damn shame as I really like what I hear but hopefully it won't be the end of the band.
To say I'm pleasantly surprised by this record would be an understatement. It takes a lot to produce a style that is both nostalgic and contemporary without losing any of the sense of urgency in the process but both Autonomy and No Sir, I Won't manage to do so here.