It’s almost difficult to believe that four years have passed since Bristol’s Oxygen Thief released their sophomore record The Half-Life Of Facts. However, when introspectively looking back at 2014, the year feels like a lifetime ago. As we now continue to be swallowed further into this new and frightening post-Trump and pre-Brexit world, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to stay consciously buoyant on all things related to the chaotic realm of politics. Whilst we all know we’re continuously being swallowed into a stomach of global vitriol, to take action against such a movement has become exhausting. We all want to change the world and see the reintroduction of misplaced common sense but none of us have the means. Such a sentiment is the mission statement for Oxygen Thief’s third full length outing Confusion Species, a scathing and critical record that’s the natural product of a culture of paranoia and loathing.
As of expected of the group, there’s no formal introduction to be found here. Opener ‘End Of The Pier Pressure’ forgoes the concept of a subtle and conventional introduction, greeting us with the group immediately piling riff after riff with haste and disdain. There’s no tenderness or compassion to be found within this release. Whilst the group have pursed the art of raw flesh-and-blood metallic punk for many years, Confusion Species adds a great shot of nitrite into the mix, intensifying their take on the genre in a manner most explosive and corrosive. Despite its lack of warmth and affection, Confusion Species is easily their most poignant work to date.
From the very beginning, the record chugs forward offering no respite from its qualms towards the issues it takes offense with. At its very core Confusion Species is a politically charged record. However, it’s not one that is built on biases that preaches the ideology associated with either side of politics. In contrast, it’s one that states how mainstream politics has descended into a state of perpetual mess whilst exploring the blame that’s to be found on either side of the coin; attacking the aggressive attitudes harboured by the politically aware. Rather than demanding the control of a certain power, Confusion Species demands the reinstatement of common sense. ‘Graffiti; Irony; Lists’ explores the racist foundation of the group’s hometown and the absurdity of the notion of clearing history and ‘Suspension Bridge Of Disbelief’ documents the idiocy of how some of our countrymen want to isolate our nation from the outside world.
This isn’t just a record that will is constructed to make you mosh in your living room; it’s one that desires to make you contemplate just how absurd modern life is. However, it’s undoubtedly one that will ultimately unwillingly force you to do both simultaneously. Oxygen Thief’s signature take on raw blood,-bone-and-diesel punk mentality is intoxicatingly engaging and digestible, ultimately ensuring that the message found within the release shines perfectly.
With its course texture, tongue in cheek attitude and forward message, it’s easy to compare this to the work of Reuben, an act that Oxygen Thief unashamedly hail as a key inspiration. However, despite its relations, such relations are disrupted by the octane urgency boiling within this release. By the time closer ‘Practise Makes Perspex’ comes to a thunderous close, it feels like the Oxygen Thief’s fuel tanks have hardly been drained. This is a brilliant record forged by the vitriol times we live in, and one that will ignite both pits and conversations nationwide.
Confusion Species is out now via Xtra Mile Records