Ambassadors of Shalom – “Abdicate Self”


Abdicate_Self_cover_smallPunk from England has to be one of the more recognizable styles out there, likely due to the tone in the vocals, you know, that kind of accusatory, snotty, British-sounding tone that you know when you hear it but can’t describe very well.  Ambassadors of Shalom just so happen to be such a punk band from Manchester in northwest England, who have a rather interesting beginning.  Seems the band really formed after playing an open-mike night that some say was even an acoustic gig no less.  Not exactly how you picture a punk band coming together, but that’s the story.  This three piece basically want to spread the Gospel and play for their love of God and loud music.

The album starts off with a bang and wastes no time jumping into the fray.  “Astray” opens up with some lone guitar and then roars into some good loud driving chords before settling back down for the initial verse with vocals shouted in an almost duet fashion.  There’s a good melodic undertone to the songs on the album and “Astray” is no exception to this.  Driving chords and some good variety in the vocals with some parts having some sort of effects being applied keep things interesting.

“This Ain’t Home” starts out with one of my favorite punk song beginnings…good drums with guitar feedback building in the background and coming to the foreground before launching into the main part of the song.  Vocals throughout the album do have that somewhat British tone to them as would be expected and also have some similarities to Jello from DK.  Musically, there are some bands you might expect to see as comparisons given where the band is from and certainly there are some influences that one can hear.  I hear Buzzcocks, Stiff Little Fingers, and also some others not so British, like the Effigies, and possibly even some Bad Religion like riffs and song structure hear and there.  Think driving, melodic, in-your-face street punk to get a reasonable picture of what is going on with this album.   I especially appreciate the little nuances that keep things interesting…starts/stops, changes in vocals and delivery, songs that roar from the beginning, others that build, and some that alternate.

There’s a lot of good songwriting here from the anthemic “United We Stand” to even some grunge influence.  Don’t worry about that grunge influence coming out though as it works.  “Blamethrower” has some riffs in it that remind me a lot of Bleach-era Nirvana, but then the vocals are more like Jello singing through a megaphone, so in the end you have a cool blend going.  To get the full picture for this one song, imagine this scenario: Bleach-era Nirvana with Jello on vocals performing a song written by DK.  That might just come close to capturing it.

Production on the album fits the music very well, and is a good example of how the feel of punk music can be captured without losing the grittiness and raw intensity inherent in the style.  As one might imagine with songs like “Nothing but the Blood of Jesus” the band has a ministry through the music approach to songwriting but they haven’t lost the punk sensibilities and maintain the balance of message and good songwriting.

The track “Death by Love” is the first released by the band and does serve as a good introduction to their sound.  You can hear some of the vocal effects and the tone and delivery style that is reminiscent of Jello from DK, and also get a glimpse of the musical variety built into the songs, but there really is much more to the album.  This is simply a good collection of British-influenced melodic, in-your-face punk rock that you owe it to yourself to pick up.

Rating: 8.5/10

1. Astray
2. This Ain”t Home
3. Jesus Said
4. United We Stand
5. Break ‘Em Out
6. Opposite the Enemy
7. We Don’t Need It
8. Death by Love [Listen]
9. Blamethrower
10. Nothing But the Blood
11. Julia
12. Victory
13. It is Finished

Band Members:
Pete Field- Bass, vocals
Neil Roddy- Guitars vocals
Joe Wilson – Drums

Record Label: Thumper Punk Records/Raven Faith Records, Feb. 2014

Weblinks: Facebook / Reverbnation / Twitter

Buy the album here:
Holland: First Paradox
Norway: Nordic Mission
USA: Metal Helm



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