DeeCRACKS’ 2021 LP ‘Serious Issues’ was by far the best of their career. On that LP, the vocals were still a little too aggressive for their often melodic punk sounds, but the Austrian band’s command of a riff and a catchy hook was still a cut above their earlier work, and a lot of other European punk acts. It was the kind of record that was capable of reminding people that Euro punk was far from dead, and even with DeeCRACKS dropping into some very familiar riffs on occasion, the speed and energy within the material suggested the band had a huge belief in the material.

Released in December 2022, this split EP with Italian legends The Manges continues their streak of top quality punk. ‘Do What You Must’ leads off with a riff that’s an obvious Ramones lift, before branching out into a broader arrangement where hard edged guitar work first explores a huge punk melody before dropping into some finely tuned muted riffs to drive the verse. You could easily file it all under pop punk 101, but as before, there’s plenty in the love it/hate it vocal that sets DeeCRACKS apart. Sounding like the perfect continuation from ‘Serious Issues’, the growling syllables at first feel at odds with the music, but the arrival of a bigger chorus – and eventually a catchy coda where the phrase “left for dead” is repeated – helps the vocal and music align, and by the time you’ve heard this a couple of times, it has all the makings of a punk classic. In and out in under two minutes, there’s little time for deviating from the Ramones blueprint or the inclusion of big instrumental frenzies, but what it does in that time, it does brilliantly. Taking an even faster and tighter approach, ‘The Point of Being Here’ often sounds like a Screeching Weasel leftover with its repetitious spiky riff and looser backing vocal. That said, any potential plagiarism is outweighed by better musicianship throughout, and the raw vocal makes it instantly recognisable as a DeeCRACKS workout. By the time the main vocal hook is reached, with gang vocals imploring us to “lead the way”, you’ll wonder if the track has peaked early. It’s possible the band had thought of this too: after a couple of rounds of shouting, everything stops dead. The strange thing is, it never feels like a job half done, even though in some ways it is. In one minute twenty, DeeCRACKS whip up one of their most tightly wound tunes, before handing over the reins to Andrea and The Manges…

In retaliation, the Italian punkers never quite manage to hit such glorious heights in terms of rawness, but their material often latches onto some tight Ramonescore/pop punk that stands them in good stead, musically. Throughout ‘W.W.M’ they explore an old Ramones inspired riff (circa ‘Halfway To Sanity’), and inject that with an unexpected quirk, load up harmony vocals in a way that a lot of punk bands are unable to manage, and throw in a pointed lead break. It’s musically perfect, even before a coda filled with carefree “na-na”s lifts everything. The lengthier ‘Libra’ is hampered a little by heavily accented vocals, but in terms of riffs, it really hits the mark, whether paying tribute to a Ramones classic or two, or borrowing from The Queers and Riverdales. Stretching to a full two and a half minutes, it could’ve felt like one of the genre’s longer tunes, but a quick shift into a slower riff for the finish where a vague glam inspiration creeps in, this number never drags. If anything, it shows The Manges as being a little more adventurous than most. After DeeCRACKS full assault, The Manges’ material takes a few more plays to embed itself, but there’s a whole world of reasons to check out these tracks. They’re as good as anything the band has laid down over the previous two decades.

These two bands + seven inches of plastic = a classic split. These European bands might not be as broadly loved as a few of their US counterparts, but the music here is absolutely stellar. This is a split that belongs in every self-respecting Ramonescore fans collection. Despite most of the music coming from a tried and tested style, these guys take those classic riffs and recycle them with levels of enthusiasm that makes everything feel genuinely inspiring. If you’re a fan of either act, you can’t afford to miss this.

March 2023