ALBUM: Thunder On The Left – ‘National Insecurity’

Political music may be making a comeback, after all. After the minimalist street-poetry of Sleaford Mods, and the funk-goth-jazz of Nadine Shah, comes the alt.rock/metal styles of Thunder On The Left. Based in East London, the trio of Arun (drums), Adam (bass) and Carla (guitar/vocals) keep their message as simple, and their sound as raw, as their name (inspired by Christopher Morley’s novel of dissatisfaction) would suggest.

Opener ‘Everybody Is Not Me’ is a statement of intent. A loud-quiet-loud squall of guitars, underneath Carla’s emphatic repetition, a conscious nod to Rage Against The Machine’s hip-hop metal lyrical style. Second track ‘Cliché’, with its feel of a messed-up military march and loud-hailer vocals, sounds like the product of pent-up rage, but still presents a self-aware comment on the nature popular music.  

‘Survivor’ is a bouncier number, kicking off like early noughties pop-punk. ‘Rather Be Dead Than Fake’ begins as another RATM-homage, but across the course of its four and a half minutes morphs into something more personal, with Carla’s vocals dominating and the song’s refrain sounding more and more like the band’s motto.

‘Interlude’ and ‘Vaporise The Bitch’ are two sides of the same coin: starting with near-gentle, emotionally calm lilts before bringing in the distorted bass, whilst ‘A Polite Fuck Off’ is a hair-metal thrash that moves into riff-heavy territory, with Carla’s voice coming off as both salty and sweet.

The album’s title track is the album’s standout: a robotic, hypnotic vocal, lamenting the ubiquity of “drones, clones, phones”, with a stormy rhythm section and the warning-wail of squealing guitar, as ‘Sign My Name’ is a doom-laden comment on our complacent relationship with capitalism.  Closer ‘Simply Eaten’, however, is the band’s epic take on religion and society – the title referring to the inescapable, all-consuming nature of materialist culture.

Recorded live in Wales across nine days, National Insecurity is an album that doesn’t pull any of its punches. With a sound as raucous as this, it’s no wonder the band have been developing a following for their live dates. And, with their staunch, revolutionary beliefs at odds to political orthodoxy in the US and UK, Thunder On The Left have picked the perfect storm to arrive in.

National Insecurity is out 9th February via Malevolent Records. Catch Thunder On The Left live this month:

12th February: Bristol, Rough Trade
13th February: Nottingham, Rough Trade
14th February: Sheffield, West Street Life
15th February: London, Rough Trade East (Album launch)
16th February: Oxford, The Wheatsheaf
20th February: Canterbury, Lady Luck Bar
22nd February: Leeds, Verve Bar

John McGovern

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