Saturday, July 08, 2023

Guerrilla Teens - Under The Dagger

Here it is, my friends: the long-awaited debut album from Portland, Oregon's mighty Guerrilla Teens. Comprised of Scott "Deluxe" Drake on vocals, Jeff Fieldhouse on guitar, Saul Koll on guitar, Tim Connolly on drums, and Anna Andersen on bass, this is one of the most impressive band lineups you'll ever come across in the world of rock and roll. Just as Lovesores were never The Humpers, Guerrilla Teens are not Lovesores. This is a new band for a new time. But if you've followed the career of Scott "Deluxe" Drake over the decades, you should have a pretty good idea of what to expect from Guerrilla Teens. This band first surfaced during lockdown times and released several demos on Bandcamp which have long since disappeared. Last year saw the band's first official release, a superb 7" called "Halfway To Maybe." And now the long player Under The Dagger has been unveiled, with CDs available soon and a vinyl release from Sioux Records also in the works. 

The album's ten tracks were co-written by Drake and Fieldhouse — one of the most legendary songwriting duos in the history of punk music. While the sound of this record is definitely more polished and refined than anything ever released by The Humpers, it still lives in that sweet spot where '70s punk meets sweaty, raucous rock and roll. Drake still hollers with a conviction and venom that most punk screamers half his age could only hope to muster up. You hear that voice on record, and you know exactly who it is. And my god, Fieldhouse and Koll form a guitar tandem that just can't be beat in the punk rock universe. In comparison to previous Drake–fronted albums, Under the Dagger is probably the most mature but by no means tamer. Pure blistering speed has given way to a controlled, slow-burning fury that will consume anything in its path. I remember a few of these tracks as demos. And sure enough, they're way better as finished products. You can tell the band worked hard to perfect this material and produce a recording they could be proud of. There are certain songs (e.g. "Concrete Face" and "Black Weather") that will surely have longtime Drake fans screaming for joy. Other tracks hint at a more melodic sensibility without sacrificing any of the grit or ferocity. I won't quite say that "Tell Me What To Do" is "pop," but it's undoubtedly tuneful. "Tell It to the Wind" reminds me quite a bit of The Saints, and I'm sure not complaining. The title track, to me, can hang with just about any song that Drake and Fieldhouse have ever co-written. 

Having done the best they could with socially-distanced recording methods in pandemic times, clearly Guerrilla Teens were raring for the smoke to clear so they could hit the stage again and properly record some music that would capture their essence. Under The Dagger definitely captures their essence, and it's a master class effort of real deal punk rock and roll. If these ten songs don't get your heart racing, you may need to consult a medical professional. 

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