The UK hardcore punks' debut is antisocial and exhausting, but teems with compelling ideas
It’s the umlauts: that’s how you can tell Möngöl Hörde are meant to piss people off, and not just because their debut album contains the lyric “Straight out of Ulan Bator/A crazy motherfucker called Genghis”. Add the presence of divisive frontman Frank Turner into the mix and you’ve got a recipe for making a certain kind of person just… sigh. Thing is, though, that this debut is a wolf in a slightly-less-scary-wolf’s clothing, a brilliant record that knows, in order to seem dumb, you have to be really clever.
Because that’s what it used to be like: when hardcore punk spat itself out of southern California in the late ’70s, it was – for the briefest of times, cf Black Flag and Dead Kennedys – as shocking for its deployment of ruthless intelligence as it was for sheer violence. While some of hardcore’s best moments come from pure aggression, when wit is effectively added to snot, great things happen.
And much of ‘Möngöl Hörde’ is great: ‘Weighed And Found Wanting’ and ‘Casual Threats From Weekend Hardmen’ are as nasty as they are noisy. On the heavier side of things, ’Your Problem’, (“And your problem is you’re all c***s”) is a gut-punch soundtracked by colossal riffs, and the breakneck ‘Winky Face: The Mark Of A Moron’ starts off like a Refused B-side from ‘Songs To Fan The Flames Of Discontent’ and ends up an excellent homage to the likes of NYHC legends Madball and Terror. There’s so much going on, and so many ideas expressed, that it takes a few listens just to hear through the clatter.
Elsewhere, ’Stillborn Unicorn’ is just flat-out creepy, and deals with the sort of weirdness drummer (and former Million Dead cohort) Ben Dawson’s other band Palehorse specialise in. ‘Staff To The Refund Counter’ covers some very complex ideas about death and society, appropriately wrapped in some very MD-like atmospherics.
It’s anti-social, exhausting and, if ‘Möngöl Hörde’ was a person, it’d set your bin on fire every single night. Not everyone finds that appealing. But as an album, this is horrible and vital.