The long awaited and hotly anticipated new studio album from The Rumjacks is now out and available everywhere. We missed the release date last week as we didn’t get an advance copy for the first time (!) but better late than never and who better to judge it for us than the ‘FolkPunker’ himself Anto Morra.
This arrived just in time to put on while I made my breakfast on St Patrick’s Day, the opening track ‘Naysayers’ had me pogoing around the kitchen and the second ‘Bullhead’ had me attempting to step dance on the tiled floor so that’s a pretty good start I’d say! Both songs have Irish Rebel fury and ‘Bullhead’ not only has a tongue twisting refrain ‘If my will is the wind, then I will die willing and free’ but also borrows the brilliant line ‘I’ll not die ‘till you bury me’ from Shane MacGowan’s song ‘Aishling’ from there it’s straight into the mouth of the craicin’ title track ‘Hestia’ which starts like a sea shanty before bursting into a pure rock wig-out. The celtic sound freely ploughs through but if it wasn’t there you might think you were listening to a hair less Punk band.
I think they must have channeled the late great Ennio Morricone for the intro of ‘Through These Iron Sights’ just over 60 seconds of moody bliss before 15 seconds of metal, then we remember we’re listening to a Celtic-Punk band again. ‘Sainted Millions’ can only be described as an anthemic war cry to the Celtic diaspora and it’s fantastic to hear a really distinctive accent from down under in the shared lead vocal. Here is a great live acoustic version (that makes me wonder is Mick a closet morris dancer with ‘bells on his toes he’ll have music where ever he goes’)
“Sleeping sainted millions, can you tell me what you know? Sing to me a song you wrote beneath your pile of stone.”
“I wouldn’t trade it for another, and I would do it all again.”
It’s a challenge for any band to replace a vocalist when they’re as established as The Rumjacks but the choice of ‘Mickey Rickshaw’s’ Mike Rivkees is a very wise one as he clearly has the range and aggressive delivery needed. This is very different from past offerings but still has the elements we love. More of the same would be… well just the same and bands and audiences need to progress and grow and the Celtic-Punk genre needs this new line up. The musicality is top notch and with a younger singer the energy pours out of the recordings. The generation that saw Punk arrive in ’76 / ’77 and then The Pogues carry a certain amount of baggage that a band like The Rumjacks new line up don’t and that makes them much more confident to lift influences from places us oldies would never dream of.
Although there is a lot more of heavy rock influence here, it still maintains a celtic charm and punky reggae party feel even if it lacks some of the humour of punk and Irish folk. That is until we hit ‘Tell me what Happened’ which ticks both boxes ‘The girls that carried you home have left you to rot in the bars alone’. There’s a beautiful simplicity to the ‘Rhythm Of Her Name’, it’s catchy and classy and one of those songs that you could do anything to and it would work. I could even imagine The Proclaimers doing it. As for ‘Lizzy Borden’ the folk story telling tradition at it’s gruesome best. ‘Light in My Shadow’ is up there with the best really abrasively catchy with bagpipes to die for.
‘Wunderlust’ is for some reason reflective of something that may have come out on the Two Tone Label in 1979. ‘Goodnight & Make Mends’ is the perfect closer.
In conclusion this is a belting new start for one of the best bands on the Celtic Punk scene. There is not a bad track on it, 14 songs and no dud’s or fillers- what you hear is a band re-invigorated and joyous. They’ll probably hate me for saying some of this but I was hearing all sort through this record so I’ll just list ‘em in no particular order, Big Country, Metallica, Green Day, Madness, Kiss, The Levellers and most obviously The Rumjacks right back on form.
Buy Hestia (CD/ Download/ Vinyl) Here
Born and raised in London by immigrant parents from Ireland Anto Morra swapped the Smoke for the Swamp in 1989 and adopted Norfolk as home but still returns often to visit his Mammy and play for London Celtic Punks. At times a pogoing, gobbing Punk, a lazy pot smoking hairy Hippy, a bopping Rock-A-Billy, a sharp dressed Mod and even a Bauhaus loving Goth he’s soaked it all in and none of it and all of it has been an influence on him.