At this point in music history, surf rock’s impact on punk has really been downplayed with more attention put toward the more obvious, poppy turns that the music has taken – especially of late. That’s the first thing The Struggle fixes on their new album, Endless. From front to back, The Struggle mixes melodic hardcore similar to that of the Dropkick Murphys’ earliest recordings with the frenetic, almost manic sensations that surf rock often produces (think Dick Dale and the Del-tones, The Ventures and The Chantays). At first, the mix is a little jarring (particularly when you don’t see it coming), but it doesn’t take long for listeners’ bodies to adapt and pulses to begin racing when everything comes together just right.
When the A-side opens with “Expose The Truth,” that’s the first occasion when listeners will be knocked off balance by The Struggle. There, guitarist Tom Chapman and singer/bassist Chris Wright somehow manage to turn the torrent which is normally punk rock at its finest into a series of imposing swells which are shockingly well-organized without losing one iota of power. That power is cool but, when singer Wright comes crashing in on top, that is the moment when listeners feel like they might be hearing somebody try to body surf through a massive curl, somehow. Wright’s voice is husky and features a tremendous amount of rasp, but it mixes perfectly with the band’s rhythm to present a perfectly unique creature; the punk drive and influence are obvious but so is the surf and, after the first time through, listeners will realize that it just wouldn’t sound right if one side of that mix was missing – it’s glorious.
After “Expose The Truth” sets the paradigm for The Struggle, the rest of Endless‘ A-side sees the band putting a little more focus on the “hardcore” side of their sound. “Break Out” and “Starting Out” are the best examples of how, yes, The Struggle could be a good and fairly conventional Oi band if they chose, but the real stars on the side are songs like “They Wanted War,” “Just Like You” and “Tear And A Smile” which tighten the nuts and bolts on the more surfy side of The Struggle’s sound and make sure it mixes evenly with the Oi side. When that happens, the energy instantly goes through the roof in a manner which just doesn’t happen when the band sticks to Oi, and it will get to the point that listeners will find themselves having to actively resist the straight-out Oi cuts to find the surfier ones on Endless‘ B-side.
Needless to say, Endless is a fantastic and totally unexpected album – particularly for those who are looking for something just a little outside the norm, by punk rock standards. Pound-for-pound and track-for-track, Endless is the perfect place to discover The Struggle, because it illustrates that they’re still growing and developing. That isn’t to say there are glaring flaws in this album that The Struggle will hopefully address on future releases, quite the opposite. Rather, The Struggle illustrates that they’re on the cusp of something great with Endless – it’s easy to expect that they’ll be on the list of the next big names, provided they find themselves in the right place at the right time. That’s right, The Struggle is real – and has a whole lot of promise.
(Pirates Press Records)
Endless is out now. Buy it here, directly fro Pirates Press: www.piratespressrecords.com/store/12-inches-c-1_6/new-the-struggle-endless-12-lp-p-1013.html