Norwegian street punks Cockroach Clan are one of the biggest nearly-weres in the business. Cruelled by fate just as they looked like breaking out of their local scene (vocalist Billy Cockroach was laid low by a childhood heart condition just as the band were about to embark on the tour that could have made them household names on the mid-nineties punk scene throughout Europe), they’ve hobbled along since then, playing a few local shows a year but never threatening a career renaissance of any kind.
That may be about to change belatedly in 2019, with the band releasing this odds n’sods compilation of new songs, old faves re-recorded and a stunning cover of Going To Georgia (originally by one-man US folk outfit The Mountain Goats). Musically the band don’t cover too much ground, staying broadly within the street-punk/Oi! Field, but they’ve got what they do down to a tee with the result being one of the most enjoyable albums you’ll listen to in this style all year. Or possibly any other…
Facts On The Wall finds Cockroach (real name Eirik Norheim) adopting an amusing Cockney lilt that almost teeters over the abyss into parody but is saved by the fact that the song – a steaming mashup of The Damned, The Toy Dolls and the Angelic Upstarts – is so good as to be beyond reproach. Norheim spent time as black metal institution Mayhem’s singer in that band’s early days (under the moniker Messiah), but he spurns the chance to reprise that style of vocal anywhere here, preferring instead a buzzsaw howl that’s so authentic you’d swear he was born in Bermondsey in 1962 rather than Scandinavia a decade and a bit later.
The new tracks slide up seamlessly against the old classics, the upshot being an album that’s surprisingly cohesive considering there’s a two-decade gap between some of the material. They’ve not reinvented the wheel here, but they have hopefully reignited a spark that’ll see the band going from strength to strength over the coming months and years – more power to them!
Songs About Blunt Knives and Deep Love is out now.