I’ve reviewed this lot before and probably said the same thing, while the “ex members of…” tag is tired and irritating for current bands, I can’t help it with these old timers. Ripcord has been one of my favorite bands for nearly thirty years. My belief is that they are one of the lynchpins of modern hardcore… that’s just me, though. Violent Arrest featured three quarters of Ripcord and didn’t sound a million miles away, in part due to Steve “Baz” Ballam’s distinct Boston via Bristol guitar riffs. The Distorted View is the last record with that lineup before vocalist Steve departed. That LP is a continuation of what went before: no-frills hardcore in the mold of Negative FX or Last Rites. They do a Mau Maus cover, which makes perfect sense, as VA sounds like that old UK82 band sped up. The tracks from their split with Endless Grinning Skulls are among the very best they ever did. Fitting swan song for one of hardcore’s best vocalists. The Western Bloc LP is the first with new singer Welly, another U.K. punk institution who continues to do one of the best fanzines in the world, Artcore (which I started reading about the same time I heard Ripcord). Welly was also the main man in the late, great Four Letter Word. Instead of just sliding into the band unnoticed, Welly’s thumbprint is all over this release. The band has slowed down a touch and the lyrics are longer and more overtly social/political. Maybe add the Freeze and Agnostic Front to the list of influences? Same name, different band. Better? No. Different? Yes. I love both incarnations of the band and am silently praying they come to the USA to melt faces. Good to see the old guard can still smash it.
–Tim Brooks (Boss Tuneage)