A Culture of Killing (ACOK) return with their third album and what a rare gloom-drenched post-punk treat it is.
The compositions themselves initially strike as sparse yet are, in fact, lush in detail (glockenspiel anyone?), lending the whole record a shimmering austerity. Blended with energised call-and-response vocals that are skilfully juxtaposed with the at times almost ethereal instrumentalisation, the Italians bring new perspectives to their anarcho-punk heritage. With nods to The Cure and even Billy Bragg, a pop sensibility quietly underpins the band’s deathrock delivery without diluting its undeniable urgency.
Time for another prime dose of potent, chorus-drenched anarcho-punk from one of its finest modern exponents: A Culture Of Killing return with their third album, bigger and bolder than before with a foreboding sense of deathrock gloom dialed all the way up beyond 11. Their usual array of nods are all present and correct (The Mob, Zounds, The Cure), but this time everything feels… grander? More fully realised? Impressive, given their first two albums have been hoovered up and hailed by those in the know, but maybe we should banish any lingering doubts that the mysterious Italian band might be moving beyond merely echoing the classics and closer to creating a new benchmark for the genre.
Look, all of this is a very fancy way of saying that ACOK are pretty fucking great and no one else can touch ‘em right now when it comes to this sort of goth-tinged post-punk. New instrumentation, new ways of relating to each other as a band, new ways of grabbing your attention as a listener and making you want to press the record grooves into your brain and use your nerve endings as a stylus. From new wave-styled Burundi beats and furious call-and-response vocals to dubbed-out grooves, there are new influences that are more than welcome in the band’s sound, but the songs themselves are their finest thus far (‘2 Years’ and ‘The Last Train Home’ are simply magical). It says a lot about this LP that it’ll hold its own with the output of both Crass Records and 4AD; it’s a strong step forward that’ll win ‘em new fans and embolden existing ones to say things like ‘best band in the world right now’ and ‘sell your home to buy a copy if you have to’. Especially if you don’t technically own your home. You get the idea.