I first became aware of Switzerland's Hateful Monday when the CPRW team collaborated on a playlist featuring bands from all over the world. Hateful Monday were one of the best new discoveries for me on that playlist so I was over the moon when the lovely Lauren Mills of Mills On Wheels PR sent me a copy of their brand new album to review. Titled Unfrightened, the eleven track album was released back in September (sorry, I'm slow) and promised to be an absolute cracker.
Unfrightened begins with a song titled As Far As I Can Remember. From the outset I am in love with this song. Beginning with the lyrics "As Far As I Can Remember, I've Always Been A Punk Rocker, As Long As It Keeps Me Alive, I Know Things Gonna Be Alright." Gosh I love those lyrics, I relate to them instantly. The song is about finding strength in punk rock music, something I'm sure we all do. Musically this is skate punk perfection. It's fast and hard hitting and bursting with melody. The song is packed with incredible lyrics with my favourite being "Now That We're Older And Our Hairlines Start Receding, I'm Still Grateful For This Music That Gave My Life A True Meaning." "I Always Have A Place To Go, Looking Forward To The Next Show" is another pretty special lyric. After that incredible start we have the song Monuments To Mediocrity. Starting out with a great one-two punch of guitar and drums before lead singer Reverend Seb's fantastic vocals join the fun. The track is about not being held down and striving to be the best that you can possibly be. The song is a really uplifting number that will also fill you with a motivation that only punk rock can do. Igor Gonzola's drumming on the song is absolutely superb. The third song on the album is 9pm (At The Gas Station). This track is about your friends growing up and their priorities changing from going to gigs and parties to more "grown up" activities such as looking after your kids and getting that urgent email sent on time. It's about longing for those simpler times. The analogies used in the song are perfect for getting across the message in the track. Hateful Monday write some amazing lyrics.
I loved the tempo and the punchy delivery on the fourth song, Dorian Gray Syndrome. The delivery in particular fills the song with an infectious energy that you can't ignore. It's another song that looks at the topic of growing up. In this case realising how much you've changed since you were a child. Stateless Society sees Hateful Monday's 90s skate punk influences really shine through. The sound of this song definitely feels like an ode to The Offspring. As you may have guessed Stateless Society is more of a political track rather than a song about growing up. The guitars at the start are heavy and really give the impression that Hateful Monday really mean business here. This is definitely an angry, fuck you kind of song. It's also a complete banger. After that anger we are treated with a slower and much sadder, perhaps to the point of mournful, song. It's called Not Forgotten and it's a song dedicated to fallen friends. The electric guitar is replaced by what sounds like a ukulele, on my first listen of Unfrightened this really took me by surprise but it quickly grew on me. Not Forgotten is a truly beautiful song. After this poignant moment, next up is the hilarious I.N.I.T.I.A.L.S (The Greatest Song Ever Written). This is a short forty-four second hardcore blast of a song that basically states all of the best bands have just have initials for names except for Bad Religion and, of course, Hateful Monday.
The eighth song on Unfrightened is called Heart & Pen. This song feels deeply personal but it reeks of positivity and is extremely uplifting. I guess that is sometimes the point of a personal song, to help inspire others. Heart & Pen is a midtempo song about finding the strength to write down all of the demons in your head and singing them out loud as a kind of cathartic therapy. The second verse in particular stood out lyrically - "I Could Never Express My Emotions Very Well, The Torments In My Head That Made My Life A Living Hell, I'm Glad I've Had The Chance To Be Able To Write It Down, It Helped Me Stay Alive, I'm Proud I Did It On My Own." Life Events is about the trials and tribulations of living with mental health issues. There is a real douse of the Millencolin skate punk sound we all love. Hateful Monday don't just rip off the Swedish legends though, they take their sound and really make it their own. Igor Gonzola's drumming is again a highlight of the song, with the constant pounding really driving the song forward. Another highlight of Life Events was on the final verse when another singer, I'm assuming guitarist Jean-Rem, takes lead vocal duties before Reverend Seb repeats the verse. This creates a really interesting sound and keeps the listener hooked until the very end. The penultimate song on Unfrightened is named Nuclear Optimism (Is So 50's). The track starts off with quite the punk rock explosion, which is apt given the song is about the damage that nuclear power is causing the world. The shift in song structure is brilliant. From the explosive start to get people's attention to a more calm, melodic approach to try and educate within the song. The last song is La Purge which is an instrumental track to finish off Unfrightened.
Gosh I loved Unfrightened. There is a feeling of nostalgia about the album but it also feels fresh and current. The topics are relatable to the 30 year old punk rockers and do nothing but make you feel better about how your life is going. If this record doesn't make an appearance on my end of year top ten albums list then there have been ten perfect albums released between now and the end of the year.
Stream and download Unfrightened here: https://hatefulmonday.bandcamp.com/album/unfrightened
Like Hateful Monday here: https://www.facebook.com/hatefulmonday/
This review was written by Colin Clark.