Friday, 5 April 2019

Album Review: Mass Extinction Split by Stöj Snak and Speed Dinosaurs (by Emma Prew)

Denmark’s 5FeetUnder Records and the UK’s TNS Records have joined forces to release a brand new split 7 inch that I’m very excited about. Titled Mass Extinction, this split sees Danish screamer-songwriter, and CPRW favourites, Stöj Snak team up with Leeds based folk punk trio Speed Dinosaurs to address the topic of ecological disasters caused by humans. It sounds like it could be a pretty heavy topic for an acoustic punk EP but it’s also an important one that people, myself included, need to be informed about.

‘The Mass Extinction Split came about when John [Speed Dinosaurs] wrote a new song explaining what fracking is and how it works. Niels from Stöj Snak, was at the time writing songs for the band's coming full length record had a few spare songs with many of the same themes, so when he heard a demo of John's song by accident got in touch to suggest a collaboration making an ecology / dinosaur themed split record. The overarching theme of the record is ecological disaster caused by humans. A theme that is touched upon from a few different angles – some quite serious and a few a little more humorous.’

Each band has three songs on the Mass Extinction Split and the first half comes from Stöj Snak. Kicking things off with Drink From The Well, we are instantly greeted by an upbeat combination of instruments from the Stöj Snak ensemble – including but not limited to harmonica, acoustic guitar and organ. It’s a head-nodder that you could be mistaken for thinking is a carefree and happy tune. Of course, we know the theme of this release. Drink From The Well is about how we humans are too busy mass consuming to realise that perhaps we need to take a step back and attempt to live more sustainably. It might seem okay for us now (it’s not) but what will future generations say? – ‘We've poisoned the waters and ruined the crops so what do we say our kids turn to us, And ask us to justify all this mess – they will reap what we sow.’ Drink From The Well featured fairly clean vocals from self-named screamer-songwriter Niels Sørensen but this next song shows off a little of his hardcore roots. Apex Predator is a 45 second fast and furious folk punk track about, well, quite simply how fucked we are on this planet. Without listening to the song you might think that the ‘apex predator’ in question would be a dinosaur – especially given the split’s cover artwork – but I’m afraid we humans are the apex predator, ‘hunting for frozen food’ and just generally destroying the planet that we and millions of other species live on. Starting with a vocal style that sounds like it could well be being sung through a megaphone, Cosmic Irony, the song that closes the Stöj Snak half of the Mass Extinction Split, instantly has your attention. This is a catchy and upbeat tune that doesn’t really sound quite like anything Stöj Snak have done before – in a good way. It certainly packs a punch. Cosmic Irony is about how if we treated environmental disaster as a war, or a ‘threat from a foreign nation’, then people might actually pay attention and start doing something about it. ‘It’s time to change the tide so it won’t kill us, And turn these good intentions into ways, We’ve got a fucking war to win.’ 

With the second half of this split I must admit to never having listened to Speed Dinosaurs before and so I didn’t really know what to expect. First up is a ukulele driven, highly informative song about and titled Fracking. My first thought was that Speed Dinosaurs need to play this song in schools so that kids can understand this critical ecological issue. Then I realised that it’s obviously not just kids that need to know about this – everyone does. The song is delivered in a fun and seemingly humorous way which, in a way, improves the effectiveness of the message. ‘So put the pressure on, the government are wrong, they have lackeys, but we have right on our side, Do what you can to cause a fracking ban – create a future from which you don’t wanna hide. Stand side by side.’ Similarly to the Stöj Snak half of the split, the second song of the Speed Dinosaurs side is a short, fast and chaotic track. Triceratops, in contrast to earlier songs, is definitely a track that doesn’t take itself too seriously. Sure, it’s still informative with no less than three lines to the song explaining what a triceratops is (or was) but it’s also a bit silly. The triceratops happens to be my favourite dinosaur so this 35 second song goes down very well with me. Bringing the split to its conclusion is the song which gives the record its name, The Biggest Mass Extinction. This is another track that feels like a science lesson or perhaps more specifically a geology lesson since Speed Dinosaurs’ Jonathan is a geologist by trade. The Biggest Mass Extinction is about how the dinosaurs were not, as many people would believe, involved in the biggest mass extinction of all time. Musically the song has a distinct feeling of rockabilly to it with deep, theatrical vocals not sounding too unlike Elvis. Again, it’s fun but also delivers a significant message.

The Mass Extinction Split will be available on marbled magenta and white 7" vinyl and digital download through 5FeetUnder Records and TNS Records from the 19th of April. This is also the Friday of Manchester Punk Festival where both bands will be appearing at Brickhouse Social – check them out there if you can, you will not be disappointed!

Be sure to like Stöj Snak and Speed Dinosaurs on their respective Facebook pages, as well as checking out each on Bandcamp (here and here).

This review was written by Emma Prew.

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