If I was feeling particularly lazy I could sum up this album in six words: Cast the First Stone; Part 2. For it is because of Ensign’s characteristic, but still rather limiting old skool Gorilla Biscuits /In My Eyes hardcore formula that unfortunately makes this sound like it was recorded in the same sessions as their aforementioned previous full length.
Of course, listening to the awesome hard-edged hardcore anthems on this last album such as ’15 Years’ or ’Winner Takes All’ this may not seem such a bad thing and in retrospect this new album could serve as a brilliant introduction to Ensign but the fact is, between the two there's 34 tracks. OK, so they’re all powerful fast-paced choons with shouty hardcore morals, lots of palm-muted chuggy riffs and widdley bass lines wandering all over the place but come on, I love punk & hardcore but even I get a bit fed up with the same thing after a while. And when these two albums blend comfortably into one another you kinda think it’s time to move on & experiment a bit more.
Maybe I’m being a bit harsh because there is some amazing tracks here like ‘Foot In Mouth as an Artform’ and The Spark as well as a few twists & turns that weren’t on CTFS. Dynamically interesting build-ups such as the echoey start to ‘Slow Burn’ and ‘The May Conspiracy’ with it’s Psycho-esque guitar screeches prick up your ear for about 30 seconds before they fall predictably into the normal Ensign groove. I also liked the end the end of ’33 1/3’ where they pretend to have vocalist Tim Shaw singing in an old jazz swing band on the radio!
I get the impression that if there was 8-10 tracks here I’d probably like it more but with 17 tracks it does kinda drag.
Ensign are an undeniably hard-working touring machine who really can give a good show but for them The Price of Progression must be at too high a price.
5Mat Hocking's Score