Punk Rockers & Hell Raisers is reminiscent of the classic punk rock sound of the ’70s and ’80s. Merging anthemic riffs and attitude-ridden vocals with the casual apathy and rebellious nature of its lyrics, you get the impression the Hooligan lads have lived and breathed the punk culture ever since an early age.
It’s no coincidence, then, that the opening track is titled ‘Rebel Heart’, in emphasising the continuities amongst struggle, with a personal desire to overcome. The song is a rousing tribute to the Irish volunteers and all those who fought in the Spanish Civil War of 1936; and has a reggae breakdown just past the half-way mark that serves as a definite “fuck you” to Franco and his Nazi/fascist allies.
With only one guitar, the instrumentation is stripped down, but stands out nonetheless. ‘Trouble’ desires to move more towards the classic/stadium rock sound, and frontman David Linehan pulls it off pretty well. Most notably, though, it’s the lyrics here that kept me listening to this track more than anything: “I wasn’t trying to lose my mind/ On whisky and cheap wine/ I had to find some place to hide / To keep out of suspicion.”
Track 3 is ‘Nowhere Man’ and my favourite track on the EP. Hard drums, nifty guitar work and some fist-pumping inspiration courtesy of the backing vocals really make you want to play this song loud. The EP then concludes with ‘Leave This Place’, an upbeat blues-inspired number that rounds things off very nicely.
I first heard Hooligan via their rendition of ‘No Blacks, No Irish, No Dogs’ on Balcony TV, and ever since then I’ve been itching to hear more. Punk Rockers & Hell Raisers may come from the back-catalogue of Hooligan’s work, but the rebellious maturity embedded within the music makes this a credible example of what the band is capable of. This isn’t the thrashy type of music that many so often use as a sole definition of what punk rock actually is; these boys can play, and in my eyes prove to be just as “punk” as many of their younger counterparts.