By Cole Faulkner
After an eight year absence from the studio, GBH staged a successful comeback back in 2010. The album helped solidify their legacy as one of hardcore street-punk’s finest, only to return to a similar seven year recording hiatus. Does GBH have what it takes to stage a second return and and maintain relevance in today’s increasingly demanding punk scene? The band responds with the aptly titled follow-up, Momentum, of which GBH proves that despite the lengthy break, they still have plenty of juice.
“Everybody’s got a hometown, not everybody’s got a home” shouts vocalist Colin Abrahall during the chorus of opening track “Birmingham Smiles.” Grizzled and slurred, the track exudes a forceful message of belonging and pride that goes hand in hand with the band’s hardcore meets Oi! legacy. Momentum reinforces that GBH is clearly an inspiration for many of the bands that followed, with those like Rancid forever indebted. By and large the tracklisting runs at a steady pace, balancing forceful bouts of gang vocals (“Population Bomb”) with strong instances of angular street punk (“No News”). And of course there’s room to pick up a catchy melody from time to time. Case and point, “Enemies” flirts with a dirty shade of pop-punk not unlike those found with many of GBH’s peers, while “The Perfect Storm” finds its way with a hard nosed punk rock punchout. Some may point out that the album is quite homogenous in substance, but there’s little question that the band knows their way around the their distinctive style.
Overall, fans of street punk and Oi! stand to gain much enjoyment from GBH in their current form. The songs emit passion rather than the passivity that often comes from long running bands with multiple revivals. Momentum is a fast rolling vehicle that showcases that GBH still has plenty of fire left in the tank.