4 more tunes from Waterford’s Sympos are a welcome contribution to the New Wave Of Irish Oi! They play up to all the skinhead stereotypes but clearly are an intelligent bunch with a sense of humour says Nathan Brown.
As with their last EP, the 4 songs on this slab of vinyl present 2 sides to the band. The opening track is more tuneful, perhaps even rocky, whereas the remaining three satisfy those seeking more traditional Oi! fare. Although clearly from the Punk and Oi! scene in Ireland, describing Sympos as an Oi! band may be doing them a dis-service as there are still people who will dismiss anything with that tag. Their loss! There’s nothing wrong with decent Oi! bands. The French and Irish scenes have both been churning out good quality shit of late. While within the stable, the Sympos sound throws variety at the theme.
Kicking off side A, Pigeon Punt deviates from the standard Oi! template and is led by a rhythmic rocking, head nodding, choppy guitar sound that is straight out of the Ramones song book. I mean who hasn’t been influenced by them? Less Oi and more guitar, and I hear first wave 1977 punk in the vocal delivery. At its heart, it’s just a straight up punk song, telling the story of a protagonist who develops a Death Wish style hatred for pigeons after one eyes up his hangover cure. I’m filing this under humour not animal abuser, as it is clearly tongue in cheek, and in the video the pigeon wins the day. The duelling guitar solos wail away in a punk rock’n’roll style that evokes the best of the first wave punk bands. They rein it in before it gets too flashy. If you didn’t know better you wouldn’t have Sympos pegged as an Oi! band although the rest of the EP lays any doubts to rest. I have to say that on first listen Pigeon Punt wasn’t doing it for me, but the more I listened to it the more the hook got in my head and it’s repetitive riff is as infectious as a pile of guano.
Fight Fight Fight has more abrasive shout and a heavy guitar. Now I wouldn’t want to besmirch the reputation of peaceful flower sniffing skins but a roaring vocal screaming “Fight Fight Fight” plays up to the violent hooligan stereotype. It’s basically a list of all the people they hate and wanna fight, starting with Nazis, drunks and useless c***s and pretty much ending up in an antisocial hatred of the world in general. The heavy, damped chorus may have the Rejects in its DNA but reminds me more of bands like Defiance, an American outfit who successfully combined an anarcho-punk and street punk sound way back in the 90s. This song uses a classic Oi! trick borrowed from dub when the guitar drops down to allow the bass and drums to create space and build up the energy before the guitars kick back in at full pelt with some chiming chords and a lead break. As with the last Sympos EP I hear some similarities to Bishops Green on this tune, with the exception of the Irish brogue. Good rabble rousing stuff.
Eponymous song Sympos starts off side B with palm muted guitar and stompy tom driven drums – some classic Oingredients – so you already get the feel for where it is headed before the screams of “Oi! Oi!” in the chorus hit you. They sound like the bastard offspring of The Oppressed and The Jollars. Sympos set out their own legend, “A gang of fucking thugs that are ready to die”, but I get the feeling this bravado from “A gang of well dressed skins with their heads held high” is mythological rather than a serious threat. The words seem too tongue in cheek. I could be wrong – I’ve never met them – but what is certain is that this bunch of droogs have a sense of humour as heavy as their boots.
SUI is all about Skateboarding Under the Influence, a pastime of my teens and 20s. Now there is an extreme sport! This one starts off at the pace of 4 Skins’ One Law For Them and has jagged shouty stops to accentuate the words of the chorus. However, after a spirited couple of rounds of verses and choruses at the speed you’d take a massive hill, the song slows right down as it hits the flat, with the bass leading the fray. Vocals re-appear the before the guitar and drums drop back in, slowly upping the intensity of this heavy end section but resisting the temptation to up the tempo. This is a similar pattern to a song on their last EP so clearly part of the Sympos Sound.
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Written by Nathan Brown.