A very good release fell on my lap with Bet Your Life’s Give No Quarter EP. Its sound really reminds me of Boston bands like Dropkick Murphys and Mighty Mighty Bosstones, which I’ve seen tagged with the misleading label of “celtic punk”. It’s probably the raw, guttural sound of the vocalists, who by the way do a fantastic job with gang vocals. Another band they reminded me of is Vancouver’s own local scene heroes The Dreadnoughts. This sound has been around for a fairly long time and I must confess that Bet Your Life doesn’t reinvent the wheel with their Give No Quarter EP. In fact, this is a band I’d much rather see live than listen to at home because of the raw, angry energy of its sound. The musicianship is OK, but the bass and guitars consist primarily of straight power chords (this IS punk rock, it would be ridiculous of me to expect anything else), so I can’t say that it stood out, although I did not notice any problems to speak of. I liked the half clear, half-distorted settings on the guitars; that gives a nice flavour to the band’s sound. The drums were fairly interesting and it’s evident that the band showcases an experienced percussionist. The album sounds like a ton of bricks; it has a lot of raw energy and soul. I’d say it’s appropriate for drinking to at a bar or for a frenzied mosh pit at an underground venue.
As far as individual songs go, no particular one stood out to me. The EP is pretty consistent and keeps with the same overall sound from song to song. Deadlights, the first song, seemed to stick out a little bit more. Its lyrics are full of youthful anger, soul and mental anguish, very much like the rest of the EP. I also really liked the last song, S Club, which is perfectly chosen to end the release. The lyrics have some kind of finality to it and stay in tune with the theme of youth anger and rebellion that is the signature of good punk rock.
Fans of the genre will definitely enjoy this release, so I’d go ahead and recommend its acquisition. However, I’d strongly suggest catching one of the band’s live performances if the possibility arises. The band offers a very soulful, honest approach. It is devoid of compromise towards commercial considerations and its exactly what I’m looking for within this particular genre. However, I’d like to see the band experiment with addition of less commonly used instruments that would fit their sound, perhaps violins, accordions or harmonica, which all contribute very nicely to this brand of punk. Maybe not for every instrument, but having those pop up in a song or two on a full length album would provide more originality and break up the monotony of the classic guitar-bass-drums set up. It would be a shame not to mention the high quality of the lyrics, which are full of intelligent metaphors and powerful imagery. Overall a pretty solid release by Bet Your Life, another very good band from the thriving London, Ontario scene, which I’ve really come to appreciate through my work for Bucketlist.
Written by Norm Boivin