REBELLION, the latest in an increasing prolific torrent of Paranoid Visions product comes to us as a sickly confectionary-pink slab of vinyl. What essentially started out as a new EP somehow expanded into an album length release and is all the more welcome for it. As the cover painting and title suggest, the package celebrates the annual Rebellion festival in Blackpool. Paranoid Visions have been making solid strides through the ranks of this important punk festival, both in collaboration with Steve Ignorant and in their own right. I always figured that Runnin’ Riot would be the band to make best progress at Rebellion as the inevitable falloff of older bands happens, but Paranoid Visions have cut their own path upward and it continues to be an important annual engagement for them.
The record is essentially partitioned as the EP side featuring all new material, and the “bonus track” side featuring live sessions and other studio experiments. The new material presents Paranoid Visions as an evolving creative force, fusing punk frustration and musical craftsmanship in equal measures.
NO PASARÁN (ARE YOU GETTING THE PICTURE) leads the charge with well-crafted anti-fascist polemic… It’s a blunt and unambiguous dual vocal attack. EGO MANIA (its all about you) is resolutely rock-punk in the vein of the band’s early 1990’s sound (as represented on the AFTER THE FACTION album). This is one of the sonic wellsprings Paranoid Visions tap into from time to time and continue to do so exceptionally well. GREY TOWN is a frenzied and snarling indightment of one of the band’s favourite whipping boys. All previous evidence points toward a difficult relationship with the band’s hometown – it’s a frequently visited theme, but there’s as much to spit venom at now, as there was when the band was dismantling the Millennium celebrations. DEAD ZOO, by comparison, is a brooding gothic postpunk slow burner, and is thematically on somewhat of an abstract tangent to the blunt diatribe of the preceding tracks.
The Oblivion live studio session on the flipside sees the band step back through the creative footprint of the acetic CRYPTIC CROSSWORDS album. Paranoid Visions have often exhumed the corpses of their own back catalogue for barbeque, and it’s always curious to hear how a band continually finds new flow to their material long after the official recordings. In this context, THE ANGELUS @ 6PM and MURDER MOST FOUL fare best as more biting versions than their album counterparts. ACROSS THE HOLOCAUSTS always seemed to me sonically at odds with the brooding material it was flanked by on CRYPTIC CROSSWORDS and the same applies here… I guess it’s all down to what’s in the repertoire. This record might have been the perfect opportunity to introduce an overly ambitious full vocal version of the wonderful ANAGRAM SAM with its several hundred verses! The final track of the Oblivion session is WEST ONE (SHINE ON ME), the ruts composition previously on THE HEIGHT OF IGNORANCE 10” with Steve Ignorant on vocals… This is the Deko vocal mix. The Ruts is a deceptively difficult songbook to work with and much of it has been mangled. The success here is testament to the capabilities of the band’s current rhythm section.
For this listener’s dubiously earned shackles, the gem of the album is STATEMENT OF INTENT (Black Pitts Remix). Last encountered on ESCAPE FROM THE AUSTERITY COMPLEX, it was a grotesque and barbed post-punk anomaly and a standout track. On REBELLION the track has been remixed… more accurately, the track has been reconstructed as a skewered industrial experiment… More of this in the Paranoid Visions oeuvre going forward would be most welcome although it may leave at least half of the sprawling line-up twiddling their thumbs!!