Snakes & Ladders is the sound of a band kicking it up a few gears. Up until now, Colt 45 were a decent, if occasionally unremarkable punk band with a clutch of solid releases to their name. On this new EP though, that’s all changed. Fuelled by the frustration and disenfranchisement of constantly being leapfrogged by industry hype acts, Snakes & Ladders repurposes that raw grit and realism for Colt 45’s best release to date.

The vamped-up levels of grit can be felt from the off, everywhere from the jaggedness of the guitars to the vocals of Neil Harper who sounds like he’s been swallowing a considerable amount of gravel since their last release. It makes for a much scruffier, hard-edged punk sound; the likes of Square One would have you believe that the trio spent their formative years slogging around Gainesville’s pubs with Hot Water Music rather than their home county of Cumbria.

They certainly sound a lot better than they ever have before when their sound occasionally veered toward over-tameness. I Can Forgive But I Won’t Forget couples unrefined instrumentals and vocals with a sub-two-and-a-half minute runtime for a hard-hitting opener to the EP, and What You See Is What You Get adds a welcome pinch more subtly and nuance into the mix with its twinkling pianos and fantastic vocal layering. Even with the slight differences in the latter track though, a bit more variety across the board wouldn’t go amiss, but it’s undoubtedly an all-around improvement.

Most of all, Snakes & Ladders is the kick up the backside that Colt 45 needed to avoid becoming stale. It’s by no means revelatory and could do with a bit of mixing up in terms of composition, but these six songs are consistently solid, and it’s a huge step in the right direction for the trio being one of the UK’s next great punk bands.

7/10

For fans of: Hot Water Music, Gnarwolves, The Menzingers
Words by Luke Nuttall

‘Snakes & Ladders’ by Colt 45 is released on 29th April on Visible Noise.

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