The Filaments - Look to the Skies (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

The Filaments

Look to the Skies (2018)

Pirate's Press Records

The difference between the first song and third song on Look to the Skies is almost jarring. Opener “Fuck the ‘Alt’-Right” is nearly propulsive hardcore, while “Rip-Off World” is close to vintage two-tone ska. The title track is sandwiched between the two, and combines elements of both. This is how it goes with The Filaments. They cover a lot of musical ground, all of which would more or less fall under the umbrella of classic punk. The Filaments are definitely in the tradition of bands like The Clash, The Ruts, and more recently, Rancid.

The Filaments started out in the early 2000s, and reformed in 2009. Look to the Skies is the English seven piece’s third full length. The record offers a nice variety of styles, without ever feeling uneven. The changes in speed, texture and intensity keep things interesting across the 11 tracks. The underlying themes seem to be the struggles of the working class and the horrors of (real and metaphorical) war. If it sounds like it might be musically similar to Discharge or Varukers, it’s not. They somehow keep things relatively upbeat, and manage to maintain a sense of fun.

The raging punk of “No Men to Parade” and the mellow but gravely “Living in the Crosshairs” round out side A. Both are highlights. The punk and dub of “Underdogs” and the fast punk of “Tread Carefully” start the second half on a strong note. The best song might be buried in the middle of side B. “Ask No Favours” combines reggae verses with a punk chorus that will get stuck in your skull for days. The ripping closer “Killing Machine” is also a standout. The songwriting throughout is top notch. It takes a few spins to really take in all the nuances.

Look to the Skies features some nice retro style artwork, and the vinyl comes in four different color variants. Fans of other Pirate’s Press Records bands like The Barstool Preachers and Darkbuster owe it to themselves to check out The Filaments. Few modern bands are as good at combining punk, hardcore, ska, pub rock and reggae. It might just remind you of why you fell in love with punk in the first place.