Opening with Andy Cairns distorted vocals which tune in audible with the phrasing “In the head, in the head, in the head, they shoot the terrible master” as quite literally the heaviest down-tuned Therapy? riff punches as the song batters between verse and chorus before a slight bridge breather pummels back into the second half of the song. Ok boys, you have my attention… THIS is how you start an album!
Pre-album singles, ‘Joy’ and ‘Poundlound of Hope & Glory’ feel right at home here sat amongst the ten tracks that complete ‘Hard Cold Fire’. ‘Woe’ brings back Cairns almost signature ’telephone effect’ vocal on the verses before another anthemic chorus swings by and keeps the momentum going. ‘Bewildered Herd’ has a riff that could almost be from the album-perfection that is ‘Troublegum’, the record that launched the band into the stratosphere almost 30 years ago and includes a great snippet of dialogue from David Thewlis from the Mike Leigh film, Naked midway through.
Drummer Neil Cooper shines throughout, and percussion has always been a big part of the Therapy? sound, original drummer Fyfe Ewing left big shoes to fill and Cooper does this with absolute ease.
Just listen to the intro on the almost ballad-esque ’Two Wounded Animals’. Other tracks ’To Disappear’, ‘Mongrel’ and ‘Ugly’ are all 3-minute bangers, huge choruses and any one of these would be welcomed into the band’s live set, and yet before you know it album closer ‘Days Kollaps’ is upon us. A slow half tempo dark love letter to society today Cairns croons ‘Why can’t I control myself, the days collapse as one, I need to find a place where bridges build not burn’. Glorious!
Now my only gripe is the overall duration, with just ten songs each clocking in around three to three and half minutes, the album is over fairly quickly, but like me you will probably just hit that repeat button and enjoy it all over again.
‘Hard Cold Fire’ isn’t looking to win over new fans nor alienate their original followers, yet it feels like another monumental statement and still could quite possibly be their most important album since ’Troublegum’ or ‘Infernal Love’.
Back in the day these records were written by quite frankly, pissed off young men and yet here we are, some 25-30 years later and they still sound JUST as pissed off… but in a good way. I just hope in 25 years from now they still are making equally pissed off-beautiful music as they are today.