Although the hype that surrounded them at the turn of the decade has now dissipated, it finally seems as though Max Raptor have gotten back on the horse. Last year’s Damage Appreciation EP was an excellent little slice of no-frills UK punk after the relative non-starter of 2013’s Mother’s Ruin, and though their self-titled second full-length doesn’t manage to rise to the occasion like its slight predecessor did, it’s another potent example of the Midlands quintet’s knack for some great punk tunes.
The only real reason that Max Raptor doesn’t live up to Damage Appreciation is due to its form as an album. Where that EP thrived was in its fat-free construction – four relatively short songs that, because of this, hit like a ton of bricks. It’s not exactly the smoothest transition to a full-length album, with a longer runtime not having the same laser-focused precision as its shorter brother. And at twelve songs long, it loses some of its edge thanks to an unavoidable bloating.
That’s not to say that Max Raptor is a bad album, as this is really the only area that it stumbles. As an album, it boils Max Raptor’s sound down to its purest essence, namely the seamless fusion of rabble-rousing punk and the cream of the crop of early-2000s British post-hardcore. Damage Appreciation is still the spiky, little banger it was six months ago, while Day Release draws almost on folk-punk in its rough, staccato riffs, and Torch Led showcases Wil Ray hitting his vocal anger point in his most barbed, venomous moment on the album. What this album lacks in diversity – and that really is something that there’s a serious dearth of – it makes up for in massively catchy but pleasingly rough-around-the-edges songs.
Still, a very solid grasp on their sound isn’t an inherently bad thing. Max Raptor’s grip on what their good at is brought right to the front here, and honed to a fine point. Even when they attempt to break away from their set template as on the Britrock-leaning Relic or the meaty grooves of Big Divide, there are still the quintessentially British facets of their sound that seep through the cracks. It offers this album a remarkable consistency, and while some tracks like the closing pair of Great Discovery and Lost Words suffer from some overly samey tendencies as a result, they’re still decent in their own right. There are definitely songs that rise higher than others (Old Romantics and Damage Appreciation are among the best songs they’ve ever written), but it never strays into outright awful territory.
Max Raptor most likely won’t be winning any awards for Album Of The Year though. It’s an exceptionally strong addition to their catalogue, but it’s just missing that spark and a bit of brusqueness that would make it even better. But for a band that, until only the tail end of last year, pretty much everyone had written off, this is an album with the sort of fire and ferocity that’s needed in such a safe scene as British rock. In that respect, Max Raptor are currently getting their direction very, very right.
For fans of: The Bronx, Hundred Reasons, Lower Than Atlantis
Words by Luke Nuttall
‘Max Raptor’ by Max Raptor is released on 22nd April on Hassle Records.