TOTAL CHAOS: Punk Invasion: CD

To this day, malignant rumors swirl about the punk community that Total Chaos is nothing more than a pre-fab street punk band cooked up in the mid-’90s by the Epitaph execs for the sole purpose of pumping a little badly needed crust and snarl into their otherwise “safe” label roster. There was even a rumor that Rob Chaos was, in reality, Nikki Sixx’s little brother—and judging by the photos, you had to wonder; under all the spiky, colored hair and studded leather there was what appeared to be a “pretty boy” of sorts. And just how likely is it, the rumor continued, that a Rob Lowe-type is going to chuck it all for the gutter punk life of squatting and sporting around-the-clock b.o.? More likely that our Rob Lowe/Chaos character would wind up in some cheeseball hair metal band where his chiseled good looks and nice package can be more appropriately worshipped. Well, I don’t have any insider poop on the true identity of Mr. Chaos, but what is certain is that, whether his dissent is manufactured or not, he is indeed in a hair punk band and they have managed to put out several albums worth of boldly cliché and cartoony street punk in the Exploited/Discharge/GBH tradition. And happily, some of it has actually been pretty good. Their latest, Punk Invasion (which apparently is a re-release of the same record that originally came out in ‘01 on Reject) is a pretty typical T.C. release with mostly revved up hardcore street punk and some slower, less snarly, dumb punk anthems. As good as this is in spots, it’s equally bad in other spots (see Dumb Punk Anthems), so I’d still steer people towards their older, more consistent stuff like Pledge of Defiance and Patriotic Shock. But on the other hand, I’d definitely recommend this one over the one they did after Patriotic Shock with “Wilma Wifebeater” or whatever her name was. I guess I just miss the old line-up; I miss Ronald McMurder because he had a funny name and an even funnier haircut and I miss Joe Bastard, just because I think every punk band should have a fat guy. Now we have characters like “Todd Trash” and “Sean Smash” and it’s just not the same. All in all, Punk Invasion has a bit of a punk-by-numbers stink to it, but for the most part, it manages to rock dumbly, despite all the glammy gutter punk posturing.

 –aphid (SOS)