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Review from http://freespace.virgin.net/indernacht.mondlicht/tragicf.html

Tragic Figures - Savage Republic
(original vinyl pressing) Save 21

This masterpiece had its vinyl release wayback in
1982 and is to be re-released over here (UK) this
year (2002) in an attractive CD slipcase/ digipack
complete with extra tracks and the original
Coup-de-ta artwork of a silhouetted firing squad
in mid execution.

The record has a largely percussive base that
sounds reclaimed from a salvage yard, similar to
the aesthetics of Spk/Test Dept but with less
abstraction and more tribal sensibilities. Tight
throbbing basslines mixed with raw guitar
thrashings and urgent vocals, that are
sometimes shouted, spluttered or insanely
screamed complete the audio picture. This is
assisted further by an overall lo-fi approach that
masterfully treads that thin line between what is
evocative and plainly crap.

'When all else Fails' starts with a battle cry and
cymbals like raining shrapnel. The vocals are
yelled in short urgent snaps over elastic bass
and raw guitar - fingers gristle white to the fret
board no doubt drawing blood. Battered cowbells
and diving guitar motifs complete the picture later
to be washed away in fuzzy overload...

'Attempted Coup Madagascar' is dowsed in a
jungle aesthetic, all screaming monkeys and
off-kilter tabula over a punky guitar/bass workout.
More demented screaming gives the track a rabid
feel, like a dog straining on a failing leash - all
saliva, teeth and bulging eyes, as if the jungle
humidity has brought on serious psychosis. This
is all beat up to a frenzy and ends in collapse.

The next instrumental 'Ivory Coast' has a great
intro of seashell and chime percussion, mixed in
with a smattering of other found objects to
produce a vision of moored boats caught on the
shore's swell. This is then vanquished in favour
of meaty guitar, rapid drums and cowbells. Other
guitars work rhythms around this foundation,
stabbing chords quash any monotony.

All rolling drums and somersaulting cords 'Next
to Nothing' struggles to articulate the
pointlessness of conflict. A slight robotic
inflection to the vocals imparts a dispossessed
feeling to the apocalyptic narration. Choppy
rhythms counterpoint the odd maelstrom of
guitar, adding to the sense of growing frustration.

'Exodus' is a long and satisfying instrumental
workout all junkyard intuition and dextrous
guitars, finishing side one in resplendent glory.

Side two starts with 'Machinery' a little ditty about
metal over flesh. Steel drums beating to a military
slant, biting guitar cycloned and you can see the
spit in every passionate word 'When machines
control youâre the tool', he sarcastically screams.

'Zulu Zulu' provides a short interval in
over-echoed metal banging which leads to the
raw guitar and eaten overload of 'Realmen'. This
is like a cobra of electricity leashed to a charging
rhythm full of anger and intent. 'We are the
realmen who'll bring the world to its knees' and
we believe them!

'Flesh that Walks' is all punk soaked voodoo and
cannibalistic conquest in a dementedly savage
delivery. 'You are the competition we have come
to eat' is psychotically yelled. 'Of the condemned
ones - no trace of you will ever be found as we'll
consume all of your bodies and use your bones
in our daily rituals' - echoing back to a time devoid
of politicians.

'Kill the fascists' is all political homicide to metal
crashing and heavy drum stance and it's
definitely strait jacket time for the vocalist as he
yells, scream and becomes overwhelmed by
naked intent - with murder as the only logical
conclusion. An excellent song to vent any bottled
up frustrations...

The DIY mayhem of the previous piece is
abandoned in favour of subtle atmospherics for
the closing track 'Procession'. Oriental fretwork
with the odd chasing or swiping cymbal with the
vocalist shouting 'get out of the dark, get into the
light'. As he gets more desperate the whole style
fades into a solid rhythm of drums that
seamlessly falls into a lovely song structure, all
mute drums and rotary guitar. ' The crisis in our
country is not caused by external forces - the
danger lies within' the vocalist warns.

Tragic Figures is probably the best album
Savage Republic ever released - an audio
manifesto soaked in the spilt blood of mercenary
atmospherics and a unique take on post-punk to
boot. Like all good music this has transcended
time without being constrained by the age that
created it. I can't recommend this enough. It's
diamond cut direction and sincere frustration
throws a dense shadow over most of the so
called Nu-Metal that is overfilling our store
shelves at the moment and rightly so...

By Autotistic

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