Snake Pit Therapy – Sonny Vincent (reviewed by T. Bebedor)

If punk is your thing, read on!

Punk has been a victim of its own success, having been played by those with more attitude than musical skills, it has been watered down, repackaged, polished, smoothed and butchered into a dozen sub-genres to meet commercial needs.

During the nineties, it was high on the popular MTV playlists with teenage musicians in stripey socks singing about teenage angst whilst lining the pockets of the huge record labels that rolled out band after band. Suddenly punk was something else and the real punk fans returned to their grimy underground bands for a slice of authenticity.

Sonny Vincent is one of these people. Having played with one of the New York punk scene bands, Testers, Vincent has been active ever since and Snake Pit Therapy, a fifteen-track album that puts grunt and attitude front and centre, is a welcome return.

With all punk there are limitations, the tempo rarely drops below ‘full sprint’, the songs are short and sweet (this is Ramones’ two-minute-wonder approach to songwriting) and a change in key here and there would be a nice change but that isn’t what it’s about.  

We’ve got a three-piece of drums, bass, and guitar/vocals and this allows for space in the tracks and gives the songs a little room to breathe. I’ve often found punk music to be muddled and hectic, chaotic with people fighting for the spotlight, but with a three-piece, there is little room to do other than what your job is, and the songs are easy enough to enjoy without feeling the urge to throw a bag of kittens into the canal!

There is a somewhat sudden change of direction in the final two tracks of ‘Another Land’ and ‘Forest’ where a more thoughtful style of writing and production come about. It feels a little like these songs are from another recording session and bolted on at the end, but it hints that there is so much more to the writing than the fast and furious energy of someone shouting “one, two, three four!” from the drumkit.

Obviously punk is a vinegar genre, it can either have you running for your safety pins or running to the nearest exit, so this won’t be for everyone, but there is something authentic about this that borrows from the past rather than stealing from it, and feels like this is what punk would have been like if it was allowed to evolve rather than be duplicated over and over and over and over….

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