Kremlin - Drunk in the Gulag (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review


Drunk in the Gulag (2013)

Beach Impediment Records

Listening to Kremlin's debut album Drunk in the Gulag is like taking a time machine back to the early 1980s, to my or friends' bedrooms where we would sit listening to various records that had been released by UK punk bands. The whole sound of the band is reminiscent of the likes of Disorder, One Way System and Discharge to name but a few, and on this album that approach benefits from a production job that keeps all elements of the band sticking together like glue with no sense of space at all amongst the instruments, which was what always struck me about Disorder's Complete Disorder EP from 1981 and The Insane's El Salvador which came out a year later. It must be said that it would be wrong of me to claim that all the influences for Kremlin's sound were UK-based, as there is clearly an American hardcore tint in there too, and the Bhopal Stiffs come to mind although it's noted that they came along in the latter half of the 1980s.

For me, hearing this album is a nostalgic experience, and in a good one, as the band have the whole sound nailed down. But there are the odd moments which show that it's not all about looking backward, and this is most evident in the final track "Kremlin" where the band seem to offer up a hint of what might be if the members decide to move forward in time a bit.

The opening track "Buried" features lyrics that are possible to imagine Cal from Discharge spitting out all those years ago, with a short list of single words all pertaining to the imagery trying to be conveyed. It was, and still is, a simple and effective approach that shows that brevity can work well in getting a message across. In "No Hope For You", the refrain "Tomorrow's gone, no hope for you" is almost as relevant today as it would have been in the Thatcher years of the 1980s, and it's good to hear a band that acknowledges the bleak outlook faced by many around the world today. By including tracks with titles such as "Duped" and "Doomed Youth" the 1980s vibe is certainly one that is prevalent throughout, and the band's name and the final track of the album do so also, bearing in mind the relationship between the East and West during that decade.

The pace of this record doesn't really let up one bit, and the drumming stands out on this release as one of the main elements that help it all come together as well as it does, with a snapping snare and hi-hat used to good effect along with some impactful drum rolls that sound like thunder within the mix. Drunk in the Gulag is a step up from the Will You Feed Me? 7-inch recently released in the USA on Grave Mistake and Kremlin seem to be a band on the rise.