MORAL PANIC – Validation (2022)REVIEW

Scrub your head of everything unreal, including your sense of ‘self’ in relation to others. Internalizing everything stagnates the blood, makes clotty humours clog the veins with shite and the brain quit its moving-on, remolding and such. When the flush comes naturally, rather than the bleedin’ and barfing it out by force we tend to do, it should feel outta control good like a worming parasite working out the mind and splattering on the floor, disgusted with its host. You’ve got a mind of your own, likely as that is, yet the ruckus of this neatly crafted hardcore punk n’ roll record from Brooklyn, New York by way of SoCal crew Moral Panic should produce a predictable result — a slightly grey tabula rasa buzz achieved through seizure’d and swinging movement. ‘Validation‘ gets it done, unclogs the tubes and shakes the blood up to a fizz within less than twenty minutes just as any solid punk record should. Quick, effective, and with a satisfyingly garage-bound ache the ever-pushing rhythmic knack these folks’ve managed herein reads as pure reactivity from the right sort of instinct.

Guitarist/vocalist Daniel Kelley formed Moral Panic back in 2013 after moving to New York, clearly carrying some love for the herky-jerky side of classic hardcore punk and the garage punk/rock n’ roll revival of the late 90’s as seedling in the mind for what he’d create with various line-ups over the years. You’ll feel the garage band scuzz hottest on the lo-fi scrabbling cuss of their first self-titled record (‘Moral Panic‘, 2017) which featured members of Radio 4 and seemed to be pushing beyond the short-lived Livids. It was a solid first record, tons of energy and just alright guitar arrangements taking a good swing at their ideal but it wasn’t until their second self-titled full-length (‘Moral Panic‘, 2019) that their sound took on notable personality occupying their own chunk of headspace between the youthful attack of groups like Battalion of Saints and Adolescents by way of Dead Boys and Dictators, keeping their sound “rock” but always more straightforward than early Electric Frankenstein and/or the garage rock revival side of things a la ‘Information Highway Revisited‘-era New Bomb Turks. For this third album the line-up undergoes a third revamp and what I’d consider a harder-edged, most precisely stated version of their big idea.

Moral Panic definitely have a lot to say here (y’know) but the cut of their chords and the well-practiced rhythm section in hand plaster the walls with their adrenaline first and foremost. In truth not all that much has changed beyond cleaner production and a sharped lean into their early 80’s hardcore influences, tweaking the guitar sound with to a warmer space and giving the bass guitar tone some clanging weight which I’d particularly loved. The result isn’t necessarily a surfin’ good time but they are swinging and dodging into sharper edged guitar progressions far more than they are aiming for a coy melody. Being inclined towards the heavier stuff but still appreciative of a good ’77-’79 shit-shake n’ roll ‘Validation’ kept me on my toes for the full ~18 minutes here without white knuckling the throwback evident in their sound enough to interrupt the appeal of the moment to moment energetic.

The only real criticism I have to lob at Moral Panic is that this record feels like a collection of single worthy songs and album-starters but only just that, a formal reading of their best and less of an experience. Not a big deal for a hardcore punk record, of course, but a lot of these songs feel like they’re resetting the energy back to one hundred rather than taking it anywhere but show-opening fare. “Validation” and “The Rail” kick things off in a rare bout of excitable flow but as we hit “Quarantine” and “Horton Hears the Who” the déjà vu kinda hits, or, the rest button kinda fires off in mind. Of course this is in the best tradition, don’t get me wrong, but the greater sensation provided by listening to ‘Validation‘ on loop becomes a blur of spinning-in-place shocks of riff, entertaining movie samples, and lid-popping mayhem without any sort of end to the wilding but frustrated party in sight. Shouting at a wall, damaging the room, but making sure not to lose your security deposit, eh. We’re having a good time despite a bad mood within the captivity of unjust society here and hey, not sure all the screaming and blood were necessary but it all works for me when left on repeat. A moderately high recommendation.

Moderately high recommendation. (77/100)

Rating: 7.5 out of 10.
LABEL(S):Reptilian Records,
Alien Snatch
RELEASE DATE:September 9th, 2022

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