Pins of Light - Pins of Light II (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Pins of Light

Pins of Light II (2012)

Alternative Tentacles

If anything, Pins of Light haven't forgotten. While the first wave of punk rockers was influenced by acts as wide ranging as Ted Nuget to Hawkwind to Ram Jam, it seems that as the genre progressed, the influence of the early hard rockers has been replaced by acts that are more traditionally associated with punk or more restrained art-rock acts. But, on Pins of Light II, the band makes the point that the fading of the older, spacier rockers is premature and that there's still a lot left to do out there in the further regions of space-rock.

Pins of Light set their manifesto with the driving opener "4112."* Built around a charging, grimy guitar, the band launches forward in a thick analogue sound, addressing the concept of the future and space. Although there is certainly an element of Hawkwind, throughout the album, the band takes the best parts of space rock, the energy thundering and brutish riffs, and excludes the unfortunate excesses that have come to define the genre, such as 10-minute drum solos and lyrics that could be taken from the Monster Manual.

On album closer "We Fly Alone" and "No Way Home," the griminess becomes even more prevalent, taking the band into crust punk territory. Because the band seems to set its sound in energetic space rock, when it drops into darker waters, instead of getting mired down like many a crust-punk grinders, the band keeps is Mötörhead-style aggression and energy, but picks up the rumbling shackles of Amebix and Hellbastard.

Still, while the band's mix of harder genres creates a uniquely speeding but crusty sound, it seems Pins of Light keep themselves restrained a bit too much. Perhaps they were worried about delving into a notorious Hawkwind-style meandering 25-minute "sonic experimentation," but the band rarely leaves the confines of traditional music structure, with only one song approaching the seven-minute mark.

Pins of Light II is thrilling in that the group deftly assumes the energy and randomness of the early hard rockers and masterly incorporates the darkness and lumbering edge of harder punk. On "We Fly Alone" they state just that, and at this point in music, no one is crossing hard punk and space rock with the style and skill of Pins of Light... or even at all. Who knows how far they'll fly from here? Let's hope they break the light barrier.

*Perhaps a Rush reference, I hope?