Where to start with the Shadowcops? Well, they’re an eight-legged music machine that are capable of straddling the fence between punk on one side and rock/metal on the other without coming across as a confused mess. In fact, not only do they straddle that fence with ease--they manage to wave their eight (?) testicles firmly in the face of anyone doubting their ability to do so.
The Shadowcops unleash an unholy racket of punk/metal/rock that is in your face from the start of the first track and basically continues across the 32 minutes of the album, with little slowing down both in speed or ferocity of approach. There are numerous hints and nods to other bands in terms of their sound and they cover quite a range of music: from punky rock of the Wildhearts to the supercharged Zeke; from the Swedish hardcore of AC4 to the uncomplicated punk attack of GBH; from the craziness of Exeter’s the Computers to Norway’s wonderfully named and rock and rolling Bonk, all the while retaining a freshness that is difficult to overcome or ignore.
From the start, you’re hit with riffs and an approach that immediately tells you what’s in store--a trip full of big, rocking, monsters of songs. “Vehement Subterfuge” is the opening track and it nails the colours firmly to the flagpole, ensuring there is no confusion over this band's mission, which seems to be to rock in a big way. The first track seamlessly blends into the second, “Putsch,” so well that even after repeated listens it catches me out--it’s always nice to have something like that to remember an album by, something beyond the actual songs.
Despite some of the lyrics being less than straightforward (to me, that is, as I’m sure whoever wrote them knows what they’re about), there is a great line within “Folie a Deux” which states “You’re your own personal persona non-grata” that sounds so good in the song itself.
I am firmly of the belief that there are not enough instrumental tracks on records these days, something that the Shadowcops address with the sixth track of the album, “Mana,” which serves to highlight their (not inconsiderable) musical ability. The best thing about good instrumentals is that you really don’t keep hoping for some vocals; they have a very distinct feel to them and that’s what “Mana” provides, something that gains from its lack of words. This is the track that reminds me, musically, the most of the Wildhearts.
My favourite track, however, is the one which perhaps is slightly more accessible than most on the album: “The Age of Common Sense,” which has more of a catchy tune built in but still retains the drive and rush that the other songs contain. It is a pure gem of a song and shows that the Shadowcops have versatility in their repertoire, allowing them to add some semblance of pop into their music whilst still being able to unleash a beast made of musical mayhem on the world.
The one downside of listening to this album is finding out that the band is now no more and that there is no chance of seeing them perform these songs live. Despite this, the Shadowcops are a band that deserves some attention from those craving some rocking numbers, which feature a heavy dose of punk both in attitude and in musical output. If we were to overlook bands that were no longer active then, how would future generations learn about the Ramones?!