Words: James Frostick
Blistering hardcore-punk unit Oily Boys have returned with a ruckus. The NSW-based wrecking crew have a blistering debut LP of thirteen skin-flaying numbers loaded, cocked, aimed and ready to fire via Cool Death Records. Last week they sent a warning shot at our toes in the form of lead cut ‘Headstone’ – a pummelling taster hinting at what else they’re packing.
Oily Boys are a group whose outsized reputation belies their output. With only a demo, a 7″ and a promo tape to their name, the Sydney-based four-piece hardcore band have constructed a legacy out of their riotous live performances and a concise catalogue of perverse, degenerate savagery. The group, which boasts members of Low Life and Orion, craft a signature style of debased junkyard punk – a hard-hitting clatter that is both overpowering yet undeniably engaging. Six years on from the release of the 7″ EP Majesty, I’m still staggered by the release’s ruinous energy that was equal parts terrorising and enthralling. Majesty contained violent daydreams, blood-soaked visions and elaborate murderous fancies that seemed like they had been pondered over at length but ultimately never acted upon – revenge fantasies like the ones we sometimes weave about shitty bosses, idiot neighbours and racist cops. Time has not mellowed the group’s potency – Oily Boys are finally set to drop their debut LP Cro Memory Grin, and they’re still in fine form as evidenced by first cut ‘Headstone’.
‘Headstone’ kicks off with an ear-piercing screech – a shrill blast of modulated feedback that soon gives way to a percussive stampede. Oily Boys fire up the sonic wood-chipper and feed it whatever is close at hand, allowing the serrated guitars and bludgeoning rhythm section turn matter into mulch. Drew Bennett’s larynx-shredding vocals are in fine form, and while I can’t make much sense out of what he’s saying, he’s making damn sure I’m listening. (Amendment: Drew has shared insight into the lyrics: “Headstone is about the Australian government’s mishandling through their robodebt scheme and the hurt it inflicted upon people while they turned a blind eye to people’s suffering. They let people take their own lives and live in panic due to false data they refused to amend and they should never be forgiven for their actions“)
I’ve given all of Cro Memory Grin a listen and am happy to report that it goes far beyond the brass-knuckle beatdown of ‘Headstone’. The intensity remains – even when the group weaves in threads from other genres – but the way it is conveyed boasts nuance that serves to enhance its re-listenability. The songs featured on the 2017 promo tape are on there, so if you want a bit more you can check some of the tracks here. It’s the goods, just you wait and see.