Yeah ok, hand’s up, I picked this band out to review by their name first and foremost, who wouldn’t? I was then ecstatic to discover that Wonk Unit are a well-established punk band residing right here in the UK – how the hell have I missed them?! Well, that’s all about to be set right as I sit back and listen to their 6th studio album Terror.
I don’t know about you but I’m always saying music is my medicine. It’s my pick me up when I’m down, it gives me euphoria when I’m happy and peace within myself when I’m in turmoil. And this is exactly the same for frontman Alex Johnson who uses his writing in the same way, he has a ‘no holds barred’ approach to his work where he writes openly about his road to sobriety,
Wonk Unit is my drink. All of my songs are my AA. I have to get these songs out of my soul. I’m writing for nobody else but me. I would be doing Wonk Unit even if nobody else cared.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the essence of punk in a nutshell, writing for one’s self about what matters personally and not bowing down to the mainstream and making radio friendly tracks just to make a fast buck. So, what of Terror?
Staying true to their DIY roots, and having done everything themselves, Terror was unleashed on the world via Johnson’s own Plasterer Records on April 20th on CD, vinyl and digital formats.
The album kicks off with a disco-punk number “Day Job Wanker” (think Electric Six’s “Gay Bar”), it screams out for pogoing and singing along and feels like it’s a huge middle finger to those who maybe tried to dampen Johnson’s choice of career in the early days. In complete contrast comes the darkest Christmas record you’ll probably ever hear, “Christmas in a Crackhouse” (see below) which seems to be about Johnson’s sudden realisation that his drug addiction became so bad it completely overwhelmed all other human obligations.
“Flumoxed More Than Jealous” has a real 90’s indie vibe, infectious riffs (supplied by Kenny) and chorus lines, it’s one of the most upbeat tracks on the album. “Ride it Out” approaches prescription drug addiction and coming off said drugs. Heavy guitars and punked up choruses are exhilarating and you can’t help but head nod along.
Wonk Unit are not afraid to experiment with their sound and this lends itself nicely to reggae tinged “Thank You” which is then swung completely on its tail by the sublime “Hope”. Those cockney tones are beautiful to listen to as Johnson’s thoughts are turned to the difficulties that couples go through when struggling to conceive a child (Frank Carter would be an all too easy comparison here), but this track is so stripped back to its simplicity, the lyrics carry it completely and it’s a real heart breaker and yet fuelled by a glimmer of hope at the same time.
Opening with some synth funk “As The Rest of The World Sleeps”, is a track that anyone who’s had to deal with the hell that is insomnia can relate to. Classic punk guitars are savage and drums pelted to within an inch of their lives by Tommy, while Johnson spews that anger that rages as you realise the longer you are awake the less and less sleep you get and knowing that it will play havoc with your function for the day ahead.
“My New Safe Place” is a stunning love song, more indie than punk it has a real 90’s The Wonderstuff feel about it. It’s a beautiful bubble of pure joy in a predominantly dark and angsty album.
“Judas Betrayers” fires out of the starting blocks without taking a breath, it’s the most ferocious track and a pit opener for sure. Feral drumming, grungy, thumping bass lines provided by Pwosian and angsty punk vocals are spewed out repeatedly ‘we’re gonna change the world’, and you know what Wonk Unit, it feels like you are.
“Faith” is guitar driven and catchy as hell and feels like a real coming of age song. A time when there’s so much pressure coming at you from every direction, it’s about having the faith and confidence to know what’s right for you, that you don’t have to achieve to please other’s, just be happy within yourself.
Penultimate track “She Knows It” is an absolute belter, Green Day-like, it’s a ridiculous ear worm of pure punk rock. Full of energy and venom it’s an absolute favourite for me. Album closer is the very clever, punked-up and more furious version of earlier track “Christmas in a Crack House” with a frantic revamp and rename of “Me and Curtis”.
Take a bow Wonk Unit, I loved this album. It’s quintessential punk with a dash of wonk that keeps it fun and original. If you’re a fan of Idles, Green Day or Sleaford Mods, you’re gonna find something on here that you love. If you’re new to punk there’s enough pop-rock to make it appeal too. Frenzied punk rock littered with astute, provocative lyrics and laced with dark comedy, Wonk Unit have ticked every box for me! But that’s just my opinion, will Johnson even care or read it, probably not. Wonk Unit are on tour in the UK now!
- 24 APR – Inverness UK, The Tooth And Claw*
- 25 APR – Workington UK, Lounge 41*
- 26 APR – Sunderland UK, Independent*
- 27 APR – Nottingham UK, Maze*
- 28 APR – Stamford UK, Mama Liz’s*
- 29 APR – Grimsby UK, Yardbirds*
- 22 JUN – Huddersfield UK, The Parish
- 23 JUN – Uttoxeter UK, The Old Star
- 30 JUN – Manchester UK, O2 Ritz
- 13 JUL – Bath UK, Belvoir Castle
- 14 JUL – Wem UK, Wemstock Festival
- 15 JUL – Derby UK, The Hairy Dog
- 20 JUL – Cheltenham UK, Frog And Fiddle
- 21 JUL – Fleckney UK, Mayhem At Mick’s Festival
- 28 JUL – London UK, The Dome – Wonkfest
- 04 AUG – Blackpool UK, Rebellion Festival
- 10 AUG – Winchester UK, Boomtown
* w/ The Raging Nathans