Eat Dirt. - Death is Death (Cover Artwork)

Eat Dirt.

Death is Death (2019)

Bearded punk records

The marketing language for London’s Eat Dirt reads simply enough, ‘Listen to Eat Dirt.’, and following up such succinct and blunt messaging is as direct and straightforward an album as they come. If you’ve got ears and a mortal pulse you’ve got everything you need to appreciate Death is Death.

Of course, a healthy understanding of death itself might help you relate to the loose concept of death throughout. Quoted elsewhere on the internet the band is on record as having been significantly inspired by Epitaph’s output of the 90’s, and for a sound to nail and a spirit to emulate, Eat Dirt hit a fuckin’ home run. Right off the bat you’re hit with the unique lead vocals, and if you don’t care for the style in the first twenty seconds, you’re unlikely to warm up to it over the next fourteen tracks. This band knows well enough to put their best foot forward, opening with “Make Peace”, a warning to ‘be careful’, on account of ‘we are who we claim to be’, which is some classic tough-guy shit that definitely works here. Immediately in the run time the 90’s vintage sounds are coming through, little passages sound dead-on for Rancid, AFI, Offspring, Pennywise of that era without feeling like rip-offs or stale impressionism.

After a first few quick bangers track three, “Come and See”, feels like the first real meaty bite, and is the first song to crack seventy seconds in length. If you weren’t in on the game here the clean vocals on “Moribound” would throw you, but title track “Death is Death” will bring you right back in as its classic pseudo-NYHC pitmaster fare. “Night Terrors” brings about some killer vocal harmonies into a spit-shine clean chorus. At the tail end of the album “Ballad” is almost perfect and clobbers you with a pop-punk chorus artfully smuggled onto the album, “Spend your Life” is a master class in punk rock melodicism with perfectly on-point woah-oh-ohs, and “Pull Out” whips out an over-too-soon bridge that drops into a guitar solo that shows the shiny chrome machinery beneath the thematics at work on Death is Death, a momentary glimpse at the nitty-gritty rock n roll at the heart of the record, one last flash of the chops this band is working with.

Nothing on this record is exceptional, and certainly not groundbreaking, but that’s pretty much the entire point. It’s all very comfortable, very lived-in, it’s a couch your ass hasn’t touched in years but still waits in that friend’s basement, stashing away the stories, late nights, seeds and stems you left there forever ago. I’m sure the benefit of hindsight is at work here, but not only could any of these tracks slot into an early edition of Punk-o-Rama, but near any track here could be one of the best tracks on any period comp. Maybe you don’t need it anymore, like your old skateboard wax or drum key, and that’s fine, but it’s here if you want it. Its still as fun as it ever was, even if you’re not.