Sonic Boom Six – Sonic Boom Six
- By Chris Jefferies -
- Oct 16, 2012
No-one could accuse Sonic Boom Six of standing still or resting on their laurels. Each album they've put out has seen a clear progression, subsuming more and more genres into their all-encompassing sound.
Their latest, self-titled album takes in many influences, from The Clash to Pendulum via Mad Capsule Markets, but the most noticeable change is the influx of hardcore electronica and warped drum and bass samples. Every track throbs with heavily synthesised guitars and drums, and the vocoder-treated choruses make singer Laila Khan's voice sound detached and more than a little bit J-pop. It's a change of direction that takes a fair bit of getting used to. Anyone who discovered SB6 via the UK ska-punk scene of Capdown and The King Blues might well recoil at this, and the band have freely admitted that they are going for a sound that is more "inclusive and inviting to everyday people".
Lead-off single 'Virus' sets the tone as the album's touchstone and this style is carried through onto the breathless rush of 'Karma Is A Bitch', which packs some serious boss-fight riffs. Meanwhile 'The High Cost Of Living' manages the impressive feat of blending pulsing beats, metal guitars, reggae percussion and a baroque piano sample, into one cohesive song.
There is certainly no shortage of issues being tackled, from the persuasive anti-war polemic of 'Gary Got A Gun' to the climate change warning cry 'Who Will Survive (And What Will Be Left Of Them?)'. Sonic Boom Six have always been keen to pin their colours to the mast, and this is most evident on 'For The Kids Of The Multiculture'. Whilst only right-wing radicals would argue with the sentiment expressed, the lyrics have a slightly cloying Benetton feel to them, which makes it all seem a little outdated.
It's far easier to get enthused about the nostalgia-drenched anthem 'Keep On Believing' which injects some much-needed optimism into affairs. It's not until the album closer 'Karma Is A Lady' that the high production levels are relaxed and the band's true flair and creativity are allowed to shine through. Nick Horne's intricate guitar licks are given space to blossom and Barney Boom's smooth-flowing philosophical rap creates a terrifically flamboyant finale.
At just ten tracks and 38 minutes, this certainly feels like a taut album without an inch of flab, although it's a shame that they didn't see fit to include last year's joyously upbeat single 'Sunny Side Of The Street', which would have capped things off nicely.
Ultimately 'Sonic Boom Six' fails to reach the dizzying heights scaled on 2009's 'City Of Thieves', but it does confirm SB6's status as the most relentlessly innovative band in the UK.
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