The Bollweevils - Essential (Cover Artwork)

The Bollweevils

Essential (2023)

red scare industries

It may be hard to believe, but it has been 28 years since the last proper Bollweevils studio album. This legendary Chicago punk rock outfit last released Heavyweight on Dr. Strange Records in 1995. Rest assured this is not a reunion album by any means. The band has remained active in varying degrees all these years. Bollweevils are regular participants of many major well-known festivals, such as Riot Fest, The Fest, Punk Rock Bowling and Rebellion to name a few. The band has gone through various line-up changes over the years as well. The band has now released Essential to the punk rock world, marking their third proper full-length record.

The Bollweevils come out swinging with “Predisposition” to start off the album. This song speaks of those who are oblivious and blind to today’s world issues. Musically this track boasts strong backing vocals and a quick and effective breakdown. The band goes more mid-paced on “Galt’s Gulch” which follows. Listeners will be taken back to the classic Chicago sound of Naked Raygun or Effigies on this track. The bridge of this track boasts a solid baseline courtesy of bassist Pete Mittler. “Disrespected Peggy Sue” is the first of a handful of classic Bollweevils tracks which have been re-recorded for this record. This track originally appeared as “Unrespected Peggy Sue” from the Ripple EP from 1993. The band mostly stays true to the original recording on this track. The standout here would be the power and intensity of bassist Pete Mittler and drummer Pete Mumford on this version. The backing vocals are more present as compared to the original. “Honesty” contains all the elements of a classic Bollweevils track. Musically, there is almost a shuffle feel to the tempo. Vocalist Daryl Wilson showcases his vocal range well on this one. There are plenty of “whoa’s” in the chorus to please all. “The Cutting Solution” counts for the darkest and deepest track lyrically on the album. This song tackles with the pain and suffering of mental health. The liner notes of the album provides contact information for the Mental Health Lifeline.

The Bollweevils “Theme” song commences the second side of Essential. This live staple was first released on the Attack Scene EP from 2014. This fist pumping anthem definitely goes over better live than on album. The band returns to their debut album Stick Your Neck Out! for a re-recording of “Bottomless Pit” which follows. The presentation here is a little faster and heavier compared to the original. Also, the backing vocals are a bit extended compared to the original. “Our Glass” which follows is the standout track for me personally on this album. This track boasts a killer intro guitar lead courtesy of Ken Weevil. This is another song about life and death but how we have to choose how to live given that the glass is already broken. Musically, this will please all fans of the classic Chicago post punk sound. “Resistance” is a faster paced track about not backing down from the opposition. There is no doubt that this album was written from a very social and contemporary perspective. The chorus boasts a solid and strong breakdown. “Liniment And Tonic” closes out this album. This track has been a live staple on the band’s set for a number of years now but appears here for the first time on wax. This is a fun tongue in cheek song about dealing with getting older and all the physical pains that go along with it. The Bollweevils present you with a beverage you can create on your own to deal with what ails you.

In summary, Essential contains ten tracks clocking in at just over 22 minutes. All the tracks are performed and recorded very well and make for an enjoyable listen. As a fan for many decades, after 28 years I would have hoped for more new material and less re-recordings. This would be my only criticism of this album. That being said, Essential will definitely please old fans and serve as a perfect starting point for those just getting exposed. Here’s to hoping its less than 28 years before we hear new material from the Bollweevils!