THE GENTS – Responsible Dog Walker EP

In 2022, Hamburg based punks The Gents released their ‘Chop The Rot’ EP. It’s three tracks were rough and ready, but always conveyed a great sound. By taking influence from garage rock, 80s hardcore and punk ‘n’ roll, their energy focused approach injected new life into familiar sounds, and a knack for a sharp musical hook gave their material a real bite.

This timely delivered follow up offers five more tracks, and if anything, the band have opted for a more uncompromising sound. There’s less of a punk ‘n’ roll attitude, but to make up for that, they’ve channelled the best of The Germs and D.O.A to bring their listeners some speed driven thrills that pull influences from classic hardcore. In doing so, The Gents show off some really tight – if rather noisy – punk chops. At the EP’s most extreme end, the title track delivers just forty four seconds of pure garage based noise, when hardcore riffs collide with thrashing drums. In a sharp tribute to 80s hardcore, the vocals could just as easily graced an early Dischord Records release, and their incessantly angry delivery is every bit as abrasive as the thrashy guitar part that’s set in place from the outset. Its hard to imagine the young Ian McKaye or Henry Rollins singing about picking up dog poo with such verve, though, and to The Gents’ credit, their DIY recording style ensures that a purely fun track actually has all the bite of one of OFF!’s more pointed affairs, especially at the point where a fuzzy lead guitar pokes its head above the sheet of noise, albeit very briefly.

As for the slightly more tuneful material, it’s still on the angry side – certainly more so than the previous EP – but you’ll find some great punk here. Following a slow, grinding intro, the brilliant ‘Parents’ Evening’ hits upon some brilliant hardcore. If you can make it past an incessant blast of drums delivered in an almost pneumatic rhythm, the tune settles into something that sounds like a garage based Minor Threat at around the twelve second mark, and as a dual vocal goes into battle over a thrashing guitar, The Gents show a real affinity for the style. Although the bulk of the lyrics aren’t audible, it’s probably fair to say that middle aged anger rarely sounded so good. With a slightly more buoyant sound and a vocal approach that almost resorts to a barking anger, ‘Chickens’ shares a vague rock ‘n’ roll feel beneath some incredibly rough garage punk noise, almost sounding like a collision between Government Issue and the early Computers, in the best possible way, and the sharp ‘Imaginary Friend’ stretches to a full two minutes – almost an epic by Gents standards – and introduces a couple more melodic riffs due to a slightly slower tempo. That’s not to say its commercial or especially tuneful, of course. This number presents the band’s classic garage punk sound in the best possible way by allowing a shouted vocal more room to dart about above longer guitar chords; the use of distortion and anger still ties in with a classic hardcore stance, and for those who love numbers like ‘Parents’ Evening’, there’s still a massive concession to pneumatic rhythms dropped between the crashier elements. It’s good to hear more bass cutting through this track, too, and a rattling bottom end adds an extra toughness at the point where you’d expect a Greg Ginn inspired solo to drop in. There’s no solo, just another round of furious riffs to finish off, but in terms of well rounded hardcore, this is easily the EP’s best track.

Finally revisiting more of the punk ‘n’ roll vibes from before, ‘Moron Buffet’ delivers a great guitar sound throughout, and although the live sounding recording doesn’t allow for too much introspection or close scrutiny, the overall feel of the track is great, with a raw, garage rock guitar battling against a hugely crashy drum sound whilst a vocal barks with a classic hardcore tone. Played loudly, it’s the kind of basic hardcore that never dates. If nothing else, it demonstrates how this band are able to take a timeless sound and give it a kick up the arse, sharing their love of a classic hardcore mood for the pure hell of it.

The Gents aren’t necessarily out to change the scene; they just want their listeners to latch onto their ragged riffs and enjoy the ride. For those who enjoyed ‘Chop The Rot’, ‘Responsible Dog Walker’ might, at first, sound overly abrasive, but once you’ve tuned into its more hardcore stance, the raw material is guaranteed to please. For those who’ve yet to stumble across The Gents and their take on classic punk sounds, with no frame of reference regarding their previous disc, it’s a five tracker that’ll certainly entertain. In terms of DIY noise, ‘Responsible Dog Walker’ is rough and often uncompromising, but it definitely hits the spot.

October 2023