"Seven" by Septic and the Tanks

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"Seven" by Septic and the Tanks

Review

Just very occasionally I experience a phenomenon in my musical experience where I hear a band play (a usually unreleased) song which so impresses me that I feel it would make a great single. Obviously such a reaction bypasses any reflective, judgemental process on my part & leaves me with just my gut instinct: the heart talking rather than the head. And I think that's how music ought to work: don't you?

The most recent example of this was hearing, amongst some other stonking and frankly also attention grabbing songs during a Septic and the Tanks live set, one which stood out despite the considerable competition. I described the lyrics to one of the band who advised that the correct title was "Seven" (which I believe relates to its place in the chronology of their compositions rather than the lyrics). I am really glad that I found out & even more glad that they have indeed chosen to release it as a single: the final one before their entire debut album drops on February 17th. You can get it right now as they've literally just dropped it, taking me by as much surprise as their equally unexpected previous single. That my enthusiasm for the track apparently played a part in the decision is flattering and an honour. All I'd add to that is that in my history of predicting songs might make decent singles, two that were so released did get to Number One in the proper charts. I hope "Seven" makes it a triple for my predictive skills such as they are.

So why did I like it so much? Well many great songs kick off with an unforgettable opening & one which goes from a demented cackle into a twisted bastard child of the "House of the Rising Sun" riff grabs one's attention straight off. Add in a SECOND intro riff (they are spoiling us) which has whiffs of The Damned and The Cramps only then do they switch gear yet again for the main song.

This is another of their trademark relentless tracks but this time Robin's highly impressive snarl is tempered with a sense of desperation as much as the defiance in earlier releases. The theme here is "what if winter never ends" which is pretty much what endeared it to me on first hearing & comprised the words I mentioned to the band when searching for the title. As well as her "I'm so sick of the subject I'm singing about that I'm having trouble not puking my guts up right here & now" voice, Robin unfurls an associated but distinct variant, keening & ululating, which conveys desperation very effectively. Other reviewers will probably go for Banshee comparisons, so hopefully I can get in first with that.

There has been a fair (more than fair) amount of humour in their previously shared work (this is their fourth single after "Dog's Birthday Party", "Be My Feet" and "Spiders"  and of course you can also hear "Get In Line" on ‘Hot Music Live Presents Volume Ten' and "Degenerate Generous" can be found on the ‘Dam-Nations' compilation) but  "Seven" really does introduce another side to their work: more poetic and melancholic. This time too I think that more people will identify directly with the specific angst. Yet in the hands of Septic and the Tanks it's also extremely frightening in its terrible apocalyptic vision. The sheer intensity of the song again elevates it to greatness. Kudos to another great Jon Webb Moonbase production.

I've mentioned the members' great strengths in every previous review, but given the magnificence of "Seven", let's revisit & re-emphasise some. Robin's vocals, as noted, are impossible to over rate: they make the song. But so does James' riffing & restless changing of what he's playing (I gather it was he who initiated the track in the first place & it is a guitarist's song musically) but the sheer solidity and awesome power of Sophie & Sarah's rhythm section reach possibly their zenith (to date) here: offering the firmest of foundations yet each match James' constant movements & variations with doom laden dark playing which plays a huge part in dragging you along whether you want to or not. I couldn't resist myself. Meanwhile Lucy's banjo as always is there in the mix and the arrangement adding touches of melody for yet more detailed variety and weaving through the racket, finding itself little spaces to express itself and its unexpected timbre & additional riffing adds to the element of a disconcerting nausea as nothing sounds 100% as one might be anticipating: "I hope you choke" Robin spits out as if this time it's your turn to vomit with the sheer power of the emotions.

To some extent, the band see it as a song about the miseries of winter (and that too played a part in why it's out today) but believe me it's about a great deal more than that: the winter in our souls & our society. I should, I suppose, drop in some smart "Game of Thrones" quotation at this point, but that's a bit obvious so I'll go with "Groundhog Day": "it's gonna be cold, it's gonna be grey, and it's gonna last you for the rest of your life." That's what "Seven" sounds like.

On a brighter note, not only do the band release their album on February 17th, but they launch it too at Just Dropped In Records in Coventry, in the company of Stegosaurus Sex Party & Hedcheese (tickets from this link: https://www.facebook.com/events/918858216608659)

So many now are the media picking up on the Septic and the Tanks phenomenon that I for one shan't be surprised at some of them naming "Seven" as Record of the Week/Month/Year. It's that special.

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