Mixing skate punk, pop punk, melodic hardcore and scratchy 80s indie, Denmark’s Forever Unclean delve into a melting pot of sounds that can turn on a sixpence. It’s will full credit to the band that such a varied sound works as well as it does; if any of the musicians were in any way slack, the tunes on their 2018 EP ‘Woof’ could fall apart in an instant.
The opening track from the EP is an excellent example of their adventurous sound, since ‘Sleep’ kicks off with shrill, jangling guitars, instantly recalling the 90s – and more specifically the tougher end of the indie scene and bands associated with the Taang! label. At the point you suspect it might be a throwback to the Lemonheads’ formative punky years, things take a turn to allow the guitars to be fully cranked, bringing in a particularly pleasing melodic hardcore riff. By the time a higher pitched vocal arrives, the band have brought in elements of skate punk to flesh out everything…and it should be a mess, but a taut sound and a huge expletive driven hook hold things firm. From therein, their ever shifting sound sort of feels more natural and by the time the track closes with a rousing gang vocal colliding into a skate punk riff, it’s obvious they know exactly what they’re doing. Squeezing a huge amount of riffage into a couple of minutes, ‘Words’ very much plays up to a more typical Scandinavian melodic hardcore style. Speed is still of the essence, but its when moving from the fast punk riffs into brief hardcore breakdowns that this track really excels. Again, it shows Forever Unclean to be a really tight unit, but perhaps does so more succinctly. Here, too, the harsher elements of a high toned voice seem to settle more naturally, resulting in a skate punk belter that values a riff over almost everything else. If, by now, you’ve started to find the charm in Forever Unclean’s complex approach to punk sounds, the rest of the EP should also be an enjoyable listen.
In barely a minute and a half, ‘Weird’ offers a thunderous drum part and maximum riffs sounding like early Rise Against with bigger balls. A great guitar sound and upfront bass gives the short workout a lot of power and will be a thrill for those who like punk with a tougher edge, while buried beneath equally big riffs, the title cut pumps a pop punk heart. A solid gang vocal gives a brilliant chorus a sense of bravado whilst, again, the very structured drum part straddles a fine line between taut and angry. Finally, ‘Road’ takes those Scandi melodic hardcore edges and pushes forth with a maximum speed until a chorus hook dictates a no-nonsense skate-punk thrashabout. Tailing off into spacious indie-ish sounds exposes a much less assertive vocal, but with the aid of a beefy riff, everything ends with a grandiosity you mightn’t necessary get from a straight punk disc.
Although barely fourteen minutes long, the force of Forever Unclean’s sound – combined with their love of shoehorning in bits from other genres – makes this EP seem far longer than it actually is. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, as it really gives the listener an opportunity to dive right into some huge riffs. The results are not always predictable, but if you came looking for riffs and anger, tempered by some clever hooks, then ‘Woof’ offers more than enough entertainment.