Review Archive

‘The Defiant’ - The Men They Couldn’t Hang - music to tear down walls or bring a tear to your eye

(September 02, 2014)

“So what is thirty years when all is said and done?” Actually, if you’re part and parcel of those disrespecters of ‘might is right’ and champions of ‘all the rest of us’, The Men They Couldn’t Hang, then it’s the point where you release an iconic album called ‘The Defiant’. Purveyors of t Hangsongs designed to tear down the walls or bring a tear to your eye, with this one they’ve hit it bang on. No question. Their raw unrelenting messages range through deliveries as rough as a badger’s bum to calloused yet gruffly tender. There’s more than a touch of broken-boned, life-worn iconoclasts retaining all the old biting edge but like fine whisky, peculiarly mellowed to an altogether deeper profundity of spirit.

Those that know TMTCH will find much unchanged and much matured. Those coming to TMTCH for the first time will discover a fabric of truly gut wrenching folk, embroidered with rough strings of rock and punk. It’s a fine tapestry woven with the strength of rough sisal. It’s a musical enema that will purge anything remotely middle of the road. Get ready, you’re going to love it.

From the shanty-esque tsunami-rush of ‘Raising Hell’ urging ‘the boys’ to ever more wilder excesses sweeping in to carry all before it, to the rabid recklessness of ‘Scavengers’ as it ups the ante to present contempt and disgust for the upper-class and advocates that ‘scavengers, jackals and thieves’ glory in their condition – and here’s to riotous assembly. This is music that will cause Mr and Mrs Normal to bar the doors and lock up their daughters. There are  touches of history too, with ‘Bonfires’ describing the mustering of soldiers setting sail for Agincourt, and ‘Atheni Dreams’ relating the fatal clash of Athens with the might of Sparta, or tales of state-licensed Elizabethan piracy with uncontrolled privateers sacking the town of ‘Tavarado’. The less ferocious and riotous side of life reflects through songs like ‘Carrying The Flame’ as a teller of tales narrates his position and begs you to listen, the upbeat slice-of-life reverie of ‘Turquoise Bracelet Bay’ and the call to free your body and soul with the poignant ‘Silver Chains’. There’s a slight return to the old spleen with the sarcastic resentment of ‘Fail To Comply’ and the antagonism of ‘Hardworking People’.

Let there be no doubt, ‘The Defiant’ is just that– insubordinate, rebellious and downright disobedient with just a touch of time-induced understanding to make it all the more heartfelt. Perhaps like Alec Guinness’s fictional ship, ‘The Defiant’ has arrived in time to save us all from the fireships.

The album releases on 22 September, you can find band and album here: Buy a copy and fear not mutiny!

Reviewer: Tim Carroll

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