On the title track of The Black Stout’s 2011 debut EP ‘Voices of Generation‘, the band promised they were “going to kick your backside”. As good as their word, they did just that on a handful of tunes which blended attitude, riffs and a love of Rancid with top results. This second release – an eight song 12” vinyl – stretches the musical boundaries a little farther developing more of a punk ‘n’ roll sound in places. While some of the music may be a touch more sophisticated, in terms of grit, there are still plenty of hooks and an attitude that’s as hard hitting as a large Doc Marten boot.
The jangly guitar intro featured on ‘Join The Riot’ suggests the band are more assured in their craft, showcasing a sharp-edged but melodic twin guitar. This musical motif re-appears elsewhere, but overall, this opening track displays plenty of the hefty, punky sounds you are expecting. With an anthemic feel, it is a strong number, but not as good as some featured here. The band anthem ‘Black Stout’ moves farther away from punk and more into hard rock territory with a collection of great riffs, while the shouty refrain “we are The Black Stout” is both catchy and simple. Musically, the best moments are provided by bassist Al, who uses his instrument to bring a great rumbling bottom end to the faster sections. He may not play with the unmatchable technique of Rancid’s Matt Freeman, but then few musicians do. His technique and speed prove great enough for the job in hand.
During the first couple of minutes of ‘Drinking Song’, you won’t find anything particularly surprising, just more punk rock delivered with as much energy as this Parisian quintet can muster. And then, for the second half of the track, The Black Stout wheel out an angry waltzing tune over which Vaness’ growls “Fuck you! I’m drunk because I want to be drunk!” . On the whole, while it’s good to hear the band bringing in different ideas and influences, after a few plays, it doesn’t always sit as well as the more predictable high voltage punk ‘n’ roll/punk-pop tracks. With a tough guitar sound and brilliant drum part, ‘Lover or Liar’ firmly embraces punk ‘n’ roll. In this setting, the gravelly vocals show a great sense of style and the riffs are hard hitting. Delivered with slight distortion, Al’s bass parts are incredibly solid again, but this time he’s totally outshone by Xav behind the drum kit. The fills and rolls during parts of this track give the punk ‘n’ roll edges a serious groove. This track has no weak links – each of the band members brings something great to the table. If you’ve not heard any Black Stout music before, this is a track you must seek out. It deserves a place on a punk sampler CD from a hugely successful label.
The straight up punk/pop of ‘The Night’s Not Over’ pitches Vaness’ ragged voice against some well-placed (if slightly underused) gang vocals, as a bouncy riff recalls the best moments of the band’s debut EP. Being the kind of riff that you’d find gracing many of The Queers and Screeching Weasel’s more complex tunes (complex being a relative term), the featured lead guitar parts have an instant familiarity, but the solo is perhaps more adventurous than either of the named bands could ever muster. Throw in a commercial chorus and you’ve got a fantastic piece of punk worthy of any collection. ‘There’s Nothing Here For Me’ is equally enjoyable. Over a superb punk ‘n’ roll riff (somewhere between Rocket From The Crypt and UK band The Computers in a lightweight mood), Vanness’s growly voice drips with attitude, the gang vocals invite great opportunities for shouting along. If the song doesn’t get you, the riff will. In punk ‘n’ roll terms, you’ll rarely find a better tune than this. With simple in your face elements, The Black Stout hit their musical target square on.
Like the debut EP, ‘A Pint of Riot’ features a few tracks which ought not to be missed. On ‘The Night’s Not Over’, ‘There’s Nothing Here For Me’ and (especially) ‘Lover or Liar’, The Black Stout’s brand of punk/punk ‘n’ roll sounds better than ever. These tracks present a band ready to move farther up the career ladder. Since The Black Stout now appear ready to send out the sounds of the Paris punk scene to a bigger audience, let’s hope Fat Mike and Brett Gurewitz are listening…