[review by the barefoot rascal]
Ah Stuntface, even the name brings a smile to my face and a tear of nostalgia for times long passed. In North Wales punk circles they are legendary, having outlasted most bands from this area after performing for just over 10 years. A decade of high-octane punk rock performance.
Their first two albums, 2001’s “Can Your Puny Body Survive?” and 2003’s “The Incredible Unstoppable Titan Of Terror”, were high-speed blasts of hardcore punk which gave rise to a loyal fan-base all around the UK and beyond. Their gigs in North Wales were always riotous affairs which passed in a whirl of alcohol, humour and shirtless moshing! Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end and in 2005 the band split up.
However, after a break to reconsider things, bassist Wayne put together a new line-up which contained Harry on guitar and Laz on drums and so the punk rock juggernaut once again hit the road and recorded their third and final album: “Pain Is Only Temporary, Glory Lasts Forever” which was released in 2007.
The album is unmistakably Stuntface with its frenetic speed and Wayne’s rough growl, but there’s a depth and maturity on this album far in excess of their previous recorded efforts. Maybe the split of the original line-up caused some residual anger and friction, but there is less humour and more intensely personal lyrics on “Pain Is Only Temporary..”.
Just look at the album opener Every Dog (Has His Day), a pure slice of punk rock perfection which barrels passed in under two and a half minutes, but the frustration is evident from the start as Wayne sings “End up kicked down in the dirt, how could things get any worse”. But at least the song offers hope with the final lines saying “Make a start, turn it around, get on with my own existence”.
Stuntface could knock out a memorable chorus in their sleep, and there are none better than on track two Empty Vessels. This knack of writing a melodic hook in the middle of a raging punk song was their hallmark. The maturity in their song-writing is highlighted in the following two songs. The Go To Hell Blues is driven along by Wayne’s bass with an almost Motorhead-like groove. But its the next track, Black Walls, that showcases the more introspective mood on the album. The lyrics deal with depression and the feelings of hopelessness which, I’m sure, most of us can relate to at some point in our lives.
Stuntface again rail against brainless stupidity on TV Told You So, which is probably even more appropriate now than when it was written. People accept as facts even the most blatant nonsense as long as someone in a suit on TV tells them. Brexit anyone?
Drop The Bomb again is prime Stuntface; fast hardcore with another great chorus. Honestly, there are moments on this album that Bad Religion or SNFU would be proud to have recorded, and that’s about as high-praise as I could ever give in this genre.
Having said all that, this album isn’t perfect. My main criticism, such that it is, is that the second half of the album doesn’t have as much variety and hooks as the first half. It kind of passes by in a blur of hardcore punk much like the previous two albums. Don’t get me wrong, most hardcore punk bands spend entire careers trying and failing to write songs as good as Under My Heel, which could have sat comfortably on any Social Distortion album. Maybe we had too much of a good thing in the first half!
So thirteen years down the line, this album still stands as one of the classic releases from any band in North Wales – melodic, heartfelt, angry, singalong hardcore punk. If you don’t own a copy of this album then you need to hunt one down immediately. Unfortunately, this was only released on CD, unless of course there is a crowd-funded campaign to get this classic pressed on sweet vinyl in the near future. Who knows, if that happened we might even persuade them to get together for a record release gig!
One final point is that we don’t talk enough about why Neil Crud is on the front cover in between Sid Vicious and Kurt Cobain….