Conflict -- "The Serenade Is Dead"
"The Serenade is Dead" EP
Mortarhate Records, 1983
For a forty year-old slab of vinyl, "The Serenade is Dead" EP sounds as vibrant and fresh today as anything from those early years of Thatcher's U.K. Uncompromising in its vision of anarchistic revolt and fueled by a brand of righteous indignation that relies more upon radical empathy than clichéd sloganeering, "The Serenade is Dead" stands as a classic example of early British anarcho-punk. Neither lyrically quixotic nor musically inept, Conflict achieves a rare balance between raw sonic energy and musicality that eludes some of their contemporaries.
Track 1. "The Serenade is Dead." Opening with a bassline that seems tentative and searching set against a backdrop of anxious feedback, the A-side to this 7" quickly finds its footing and and coalesces into a confident aural onslaught. Colin Jerwood delivers his gravel-scraped vocals in an earnestly rising cadence that perfectly underscores the determined resilience embedded in the lyrics. An anarchistic call to action, the song chronicles the awakening of a free consciousness slowly becoming aware of the power of and need for collective action against the systemic forces holding the proverbial boot against his throat.
Track 2. "Positive Junk." A straightforwardly driving punk jeremiad decrying the inevitable commercialization of the movement. Angrier than Cock Sparrer's "Where Are They Now" and somehow more determined than the Exploited's "Punk's Not Dead," "Positive Junk" takes a not-so-subtle jab at Sham 69's feel-good, Polydor-issued "If the Kids Are United" and urges listeners to wrest the punk movement back from the capitalists and make it dangerous again.
Track 3. "The System Maintains." The closing track picks up where "The Serenade is Dead" leaves off, launching a concentrated burst of punk fury at the governmental and social forces exploiting and fomenting internecine strife among the disenfranchised.
Sobriquet Grade: 86 (B)