Punk rock has come on a long way from its origins. There was a time when all you needed to be in a punk band was three chords and the truth. These days, the music is a lot more complicated.

Take the current crop of British bands that have been given the hideous label of extremo, for example. These tend to be bands that gush their hearts out over music with time changes, constantly shifting tempos and quiet/loud dynamics- far removed from punk’s original simplistic sound.

Extremo is now a very popular form of rock music among the Nation’s kids. Band’s like Funeral for a Friend have pretty much cornered the teenage market on their own though, with their more commercial take on modern punk music.

Million Dead, however, have kept hold of the rawness of their sound, with a more skewed and interesting take on the new rock genre. John Peel’s a fan, which says it all really.

When I get into the Brickyard on the night that Million Dead are due to play, Bath band X is Loaded are a couple of songs into their set. Like Million Dead, X is Loaded play pretty manic modern punk rock with plenty of emotion. Singer/guitarist Jake Robertson throws himself around the stage as the rest of the band create a sludgy noise that sounds a bit like At the Drive-In would sound if they were a Jesus Lizard cover band, although their recorded songs sound more commercial than this. Songs off forthcoming album 'Raw Nerve' pack a punch, but apart from playing with a lot of energy, the band don’t blow anyone away- most of the crowd are all up by the bar, with the exception of three very greasy kids who stand at the front and nod their heads half-heartedly in time to the music.

When Million Dead come on stage a bit later, however, they get a much better reaction from the crowd, opening with the song that’s become their signature tune, 'I am the Party'. The band plays chaotically, with singer/Jesus look-a-like Frank Turner leaping about the stage like he’s forgotten to take his Ritalin. It is now possible to see audience members actually moving to the music now, but it seems that in general this isn’t the most mobile of crowds, which is strange considering the levels of activity coming from the stage.

The band mainly tears through songs off they’re debut album, 'Song to Ruin', with the odd newer song thrown in for good measure. Surreal anti-capitalist song Charlie and the propaganda myth machine, which features the line ‘Willy Wonka was a capitalist confidence trickster’, comes across particularly strongly, as does 'Pornography for Cowards' and earlier single 'Breaking the Back'. Million Dead’s music has quite a prominent pop element to it, but it’s brilliantly skewed pop- music that you can hum along to but takes you off in unexpected directions.

The band still have their flaws- their slower songs don’t always work, and their set feels slightly rushed- but they’re still one of the better new rock bands in Britain at the moment. It’s nice to know that Britain is still capable of producing reasonably successful, innovative bands.














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Commenting On: Brickyard, Carlisle, 18/4/2004 - Million Dead








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