Having reformed back in 2015 and signing to Disconnect Disconnect Records, influential skate punks Phinius Gage have released a retrospective compilation of re-mastered tracks spanning their career from 2001 to their initial break-up in 2008. If like me you missed them first time around, or were simply too young then strap yourself in for a ride through 19 tracks of shouty, melodic punk that mixes elements of emo and hardcore all with a distinct UK sound.
This compilation brings together all of their most infectious, catchy, 100mph songs, many of which have been out of print for over a decade. The band’s influence over the rest of the UK punk scene can clearly be heard through the songs here, which are pumped full of energy and memorable choruses.
It kicks off in impressive fashion with the fast, buzzing guitars of Home & Away, fortunately not a cover of the Aussie soap theme song, although it does conjure images of far-away shores, as the influence of the So-Cal punk scene can be heard but with a very British flavour, especially on the vocals. Traffic Light Party follows with extra gruffness to the vocals and that favourite staple of punk, the whoa-whoa gang vocals over the chorus which all add up to a great opening salvo.
The short and sweet We Swear Too Much, with its chugging guitars, is energetic with a simple melody but could do with a little more filling as at just over a minute in length it’s finished as you’re really getting in to it; unlike Seek Out Your Foes which grabs you from the start. A snarling, aggressive track verging on the more hardcore element of their sound, loaded with gang vocals and a very impressive, rapid guitar solo at the end.
Broken Wings, which was the band’s only official single release is up next and packs an impressive punch. You can almost visualise singer Mike’s eye’s bulging as he passionately screams the chorus as the rest of the band chime in on backing vocals. After such a strong start it was bound to dip a little and there are a couple of fillers on this compilation that fail to ignite. Tracks like Think For Yourself and You Probably Think This Song Is About Is About You And You’re Right are solid enough but lack the impact of other tracks here, whilst Phoenix sounds like NOFX without the jokes.
Fortunately tracks such as Fire’s Burning and Battered & Bruised more than make up for any shortcomings. The former constantly changes pace and dynamics whilst blending melodic punk with a sprinkling of emo and hardcore whilst the latter is just an outright banger. Underpinned by a pulsating bassline, punchy kick drums and layered with gang vocals it’s a strong favourite of mine.
The final third of the album leans more towards a melodic hardcore style, but for me these tracks don’t pique my interest as much as earlier songs. My Eye Bled Colours and The Question Always Comes are pretty straightforward whilst the thrashing guitars of Timmy and deep basslines of Different Dream raise them above average but The Young And The Restless gets them back on track. A restrained intro, in contrast to the usual 100mph guitars, builds into a stand against apathy, with plenty of gang whoa-whoas to sing along to before a piano led outro adds an extra layer of maturity.
The album ends with a couple of demos, Black & White & Wrong All Over and Understand as well as the rare Got A Way With Words, Got Away With Murder. Both the demo tracks are in the hardcore vein with some gruff vocals whilst Got A Way… is a positive anthem that plays along with the dynamics of the song over infectious melodies.
As a re-introduction to the band, this album does a great job of showcasing why they were so important to the scene first time round. With sporadic live dates since their reunion hopefully this is going to lead to a new record, adding to their legacy. Just don’t miss out second time around.