ALBUM REVIEW: Boilermaker – Kill Or Create (Closed Shop Records)

Just when you think you’ve nailed your albums of the year list, along comes one that demands a place in your Top 10. This second release by North East band Boilermaker is just such an album.

They were formed in Darlington in 2016 by former Last Rough Cause guitarist Phil Coates and drummer Max Turnbull, who now handles vocals, with Steve Addison on bass and Gimp Fist’s Mike Robson on drums.

I first saw them live at Rebellion Festival in Blackpool in 2018, and loved that year’s debut album Shop Floor, which contains 12 tracks of menace-laden street-punk. Their sound reminded me a lot of 80s bands like The Last Resort or the 4 Skins.

Max Turnbull of Boilermaker when they opened for the Old Firm Casuals. Pic: Gary Welford.

I’ve seen them a few times since, including a support slot with Lars Frederiksen’s Old Firm Casuals, and they get better every time, so to say I was looking forward to this album is a bit of an understatement.

And it really doesn’t disappoint. In fact it’s up there with records by the aforementioned Old Firm Casuals and Gimp Fist, Subhumans and The Menzingers as one of the best punk albums I’ve heard all year.

The opener Boilermaker is already a live favourite, and the only thing wrong with it is that at 1 min 47 secs it’s too short – a real crowdpleaser.

Boilermaker guitarist Phil Coates at the Riverside, Newcastle, when they opened for Old Firm Casuals. Pic: Gary Welford.

It’s clear from the off this is a much more upbeat-sounding album then the first one, and second song A Place To Go emphasises the need for a place to call your own, where you’re among your own kind.

In similar vein to Away Days from the first album, Siege Mentality is about being part of a football gang, while Charm Offensive celebrates the band making their way in the punk scene, defiantly insisting “You say, that the music that we play/Has been and gone and had its day” but “The prize is the smile I see in their eyes/From the power that the band supplies/While you’re sitting there on your phone.” Great stuff.

They Can’t Take Your Hands, which opens with a great bass and drums intro before the guitar kicks in, is a celebration of the power of the working woman or man, while Into The Night appears to be a love song, Boilermaker style.

Boilermaker bass player Steve Addison at the Black Bull in Gateshead. Pic: Gary Welford.

If this was an old-fashioned vinyl album – now there’s an idea, lads – that would probably be the end of side one, and if you think that was good, wait for side two.

County Lines is one of the strongest songs on the record, about the drugs gangs bringing misery to towns and cities from afar, and warning “we’ve gotta show the youth there’s other ways to the top”.

Roll Back The Years is another highlight, a real dose of nostalgia about simpler times: “Our folks were happy to get a house on this estate, they grafted hard, got out Saturday night”… “Bring back those times again, those days they never seemed to end.”

Mike Robson, the powerhouse drummer who holds it all together for Boilermaker. Pic: Gary Welford.

Ya Pays Ya Money and the closing title track aren’t bad songs, but suffer through sitting either side of the album’s standout track, There’s A Police Car. It’s an absolute stormer, warning of the unrest among a generation angry at being forgotten, and it’s destined to become a massive live favourite.

If you like your punk tough, with plenty of anger, but lots of melody and no little musicianship, you need to get some Boilermaker into your life. 9/10.

Gary Welford owner