Punk for the Gospel Benefit Compilation (Volume I and II)


PunkForTheGospel_Volume1coverA two-volume benefit compilation must have a good story behind it, especially with a name like Punk for the Gospel. Turns out, there is a good story. Thumper Punk Records and Caustic Fallout managed to get 42 bands to donate songs for the two-volume compilation to support foreign missionaries from within the Christian Punk Community. Better yet, the two being supported are in bands on the compilation, Aaron Liberty of True Liberty and Dave Emmerson of the Old-Timers. To provide some perspective, Dave and his family moved from Scotland to Paarl, South Africa where they have been involved in youth and even prison ministry and Aaron and his family are now in the final stages of getting support to relocate from Virginia to Costa Rica and return to mission work in the Orosi Valley.

So, these compilations are definitely for a good cause, but are they any good? In a word, yes. Each one has a distinct flavor and feel to it and fittingly, the Old-Timers kick off Volume I and True Liberty kicks off Volume II. In general, you have 20 or so tracks from different punk bands who all approach their music differently, so there is a good bit of variety and some surprises. If you’ve heard all the bands before, you know what to expect and the bands involved donated some of their better songs. With this many bands involved, I even managed to find some I had not heard before and now listen to regularly, so much like other compilations, these are a good way to find new bands worth listening to. Given the number of bands and styles on each album, there is no way I could cover every song in a reasonable amount of time, so I’ll cover what I consider are some of the standout tracks and biggest surprises. This does not mean that the songs mentioned are the only ones I liked however, as these albums are one of those rare occurrences in compilations where you can listen from start to finish without having to skip horrible tracks. The songs all fit together well and are of good production quality, which is also something a bit rare in compilations, and in general the changes in style are not extreme from band to band, which also aids in the listening experience. That being said, there is a good bit of variety in style and approach to the “punk rock” genre here with some leaning toward more poppy and others leaning to and even getting to hardcore. All the performances are good and the songs as well, but some struck this reviewer a bit harder than others and those are the ones mentioned below.

Volume I kicks off with the Old-Timers roaring through the song “This City” with its fast, driving tempo and style not too far off from old-school hardcore. I would strongly recommend checking the accompanying video for this song as well (below) as it was very well done and gives a glimpse as to what “This City” of Paarl really is. Growing up out of the Christian punk scene, Dogwood was actually new to me, so hearing “Homeland Insecurity” was a nice surprise. Good, solid melodic punk with the bass and vocals driving much of the song along. Often times bigger bands will pawn off some of their weaker songs for compilations, but Flatfoot 56 picked one of the stronger songs from Black Thorn, “Smoke Blower” for this compilation and being one of their faster songs with some trade-off vocals, it fits very well. Call to Glory with “Soul Miner”, Grace and Thieves with “Slow Regret” and Gorilla Warfare with “At War with Myself” bring some heavier songs to the mix. Volume I even contains some punkabilly/psychobilly/country-punk type sound with the Altar Billies’ “Hold On” and even hints of that style showing up in the Scurvies’ “Swing Low Sweetheart”. Probably the most different sounding track on Volume I is from Mason Summers with “Pedestal”. It has a catchy bass line that powers the song along, male and female vocals in a verse/response format and even keyboards play a significant role in the overall sound. On paper, that certainly doesn’t describe punk rock but with the tone of the vocals, the ever present attitude, and the fast drums, this song is as punk rock as any other track.

PunkForTheGospel_Volume2coverVolume II . This volume contained one of the biggest surprises for me with Metanoia from Chile showcasing some great melodic punk, which to my ears reminded me of a cross between older Offspring and possibly some Rise Against. Even though entirely in Spanish as they are from Chile, I was immediately hooked by their sound and had to hear more. Influenced by the Smiley Kids and Dogwood, Metanoia obviously fit well on this compilation. True Liberty kick off Volume II with “Marked for Life” and has their trademark sound to it with an interesting start/stop part in the song that emphasizes the “Marked…For…Life” concept. Fast guitars, fast drums, gritty vocals and some good pile-on and circle pit sections of the song, what more could one want in a punk song? The Deal make a welcome appearance with an unreleased track that is a heavy, rocking tune. “Nancy Don’t Fall Asleep” is identifiable as the Deal in sound but is a bit heavier than much of their catalog. The Smiley Kids was another “older” band that was new to me and “Skate and Smile” did make me smile with its Suicidal Tendencies-like sound. Saint Hooligan slows things down a bit with “Deserts and Wastelands” but the sneering tone of the vocals and the message of “I will stand and fight beside you til I can bleed no more…” makes for a great sing-a-long and conveys an “us against the world” vibe that is so welcome and encouraging.

Each band on these volumes deserves a listen and I only highlighted tracks that spoke to me and where I’m coming from, so support a good cause and pick up some punk rock…you will find a lot to like on these compilations.

Rating: 8/10

Bands and Tracklist

Volume I

1. The Old-timers – This City
3. Hippos of Doom – White Washed Tomb
4. Dogwood – Homeland Insecurity
5. The Lonely Revolts – The Revolt is Forming
6. Flatfoot 56 – Smoke Blower
7. Call to Glory – Soul Miner
8. Platoon 1107 – Live Free or Die
9. Grace & Thieves – Slow Regret
10. Unshackled – Jesus is Punk Rock
11. The Hoax – Die to Self
12. Don’t Get Bored – Fear
13. Gorilla Warfare – At War With Myself
14. Government Hate Mail – Cry Baby
15. Lust Control – Don’t Kill You
16. uniSEF – Drive Thru Amerika
17. The Social Threat – Bystanders
18. The Altar Billies – Hold On
19. The Scurvies – Swing Low, Sweetheart
20. Mason Summers – Pedestal
21. The Shiny Darks – I Want To Be A Kennedy

Volume II

1. True Liberty – Marked for Life
2. False Idle – Retaliate
3. The WAY – Blind Eye
4. The Deal – Nancy Don’t Fall Asleep
5. Grave Robber – Haunted House
6. Jump Ship Quick – Looking Past
7. ABSOLVED – Relentless Leathernecks
8. The Smiley Kids – Skate and Smile
9. The Kings Kids – Clean Face in a Dirty Place
10. Saint Hooligan – Deserts and Wastelands
11. Praiser – Restart
12. Vincible – It’s Up to Me
13. 100 Philistine Foreskins – We Lament the Death of God in Heart of Man*
14. Empty Tomb – Circle of Power
15. Desiring Dead Flesh – Blood, Sweat & Circle Pits
16. Revolution Radio – Bound For Glory
17. Metanoia – Evidente
18. Covenant – Last Words
19. Craig’s Brother – The Insidious Lie
20. Goodnight Wednesday – The Ballad of Tatty Higgins
21. 180 OUT – Lifeguard

Record Label: Thumper Punk Records, Aug. 2012

Video below “This City” by the Old-timers:


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