It’s a stark and baron land out there right now. What we all need is some fucking loud, fast, uncompromising raw punk to drown out the constant bullshit being broadcasted as 2021 develops.
Both following up storming debut LP’s with five new tracks plus a local cover each, Nervous SS and Rat Cage clash head to head on this 12 song barrage of hell for leather punk rock.
The Nervous SS side (Skopje) undoubtedly wears a Totalitär influence on its sleeve, but combine that sweet sound with a complete powerhouse vocal bombardment that sets Nervous SS a cut above the rest. Flip to the Rat Cage side (Sheffield) for a rapid attack of Scandi riffs with the relentless urgency we’ve grown to know and love from the band. The side ends with a U.K. Subs cover, clearly displaying Rat Cage’s classic British Punk influence.
With Master dials set firmly to ‘destroy mode’, this record will be your saviour in these dark times. Crank it.
Our take: People have a prejudice against split records, and with good reason. They can be repositories for throwaway material, they can lead listeners into an unfavorable comparison between the two sides of the record in which no one wins, and with multiple bands collaborating they are often conceptually muddled. However, Skopje vs Sheffield has none of those problems. It is a perfect hardcore record that just happens also to be a split record. It’s telling that every single time I’ve played this record (which is a lot), I’ve listened to it all the way through. I don’t think you’ll see anyone calling this a one-sided 12”. Nervous SS (from Skopje, Macedonia) and Rat Cage (from Sheffield, UK) are two perfectly matched bands, both playing Totalitär-influenced d-beat hardcore with elements that push at the edges of that sound. Perhaps it’s because they knew people would compare them, but both bands are 100% relentless on Skopje vs Sheffield. This is full-on, pedal-to-the-metal hardcore that doesn’t give you one second to breathe. Listening to Skopje vs Sheffield reminds me of examining a Nick Blinko drawing in that, from a distance, it can seem monochromatic, but when you zoom in, each hatch mark (or, on the record, each riff) is its own magical little world, and these magical little worlds are woven seamlessly into a complex tapestry. Although each band contributes a side, Skopje vs Sheffield even has an arc like a great full-length, with a clear climax (Rat Cage’s track “Persecution”) and ending with an awesome comedown (the long, melodic guitar solo that closes Rat Cage’s UK Subs cover). Like the Impalers’ Psychedelic Snutskallar LP, this feels like an unequivocal high-water mark for current hardcore punk.