It’s been a couple of months since I heard about the final UK Subs album, but for some reason, I put that information aside for a while. Then the debut single Sensei appeared on streaming platforms, and I decided to give it a listen. As a long-time Subs fan, I was a bit skeptical about what this final material will sound like, but after Sensei, I immediately restored my faith in this legendary British punk rock band. Then the band unleashed Kill Me, the second single off the album, and I was even more intrigued to hear what UK Subs prepared for their die-hard fans. After two excellent introductory pieces, Reverse Engineering ended up on my “to review” list without hesitation.
Reverse Engineering carries twelve outstanding punk rock numbers, performed in a classic UK Subs manner. First of all, I have to say that Charlie Harper’s voice sounds better than ever. He sings with the same energy, intensity, confidence, and aggression, and that’s not an easy task to maintain after 46 years of constant recording, performing, touring, and other activities musicians usually do during their careers. Also, many contemporary punk rock singers could look up to Charlie for giving the best performance while recording the album. Of course, the remainder of the band sounds superb as well. Jamie Oliver nailed his part with the energetic rhythmic maneuvers, tight drumming, continuous accentuations over the cymbals and drum fills. His performance gives even more energy to the sound of the Subs. Therefore, Reverse Engineering might appear more aggressive than their previous recordings.
Let’s not forget about the vividly hearable performance of Alvin Gibbs, who delivered ear-appealing basslines and additionally enhanced the sound of this record. I always loved how UK Subs pay attention to bass guitar, so every low-end tone is almost equally present in the mix as the electric guitar. The riffs are probably one of the heaviest weapons of this legendary band, and Reverse Engineering has plenty of mind-blowing moments when it comes to guitar performance. As usual, Steve Straughan relies upon three to four-chord progressions, but each guitar sequence sounds so powerful. There are also short but effective guitar solos, melodies, harmonies, and themes that further decorate these songs. Powerful singalongs are coming like a cherry on the top, so every track sounds catchy as hell.
There are many highlights, and it’s not easy to pick up favorite tracks when almost all the compositions sound superb, but I think you’ll solely enjoy Sensei, Political Alamo, C60 Audio, Hoist The Sail, Statements, and The Night Holds The Key. Don’t miss this album if you’re a die-hard fan of UK Subs. Reverse Engineering is available on vinyl and CD via Cleopatra Records. Head over to their website for more information about ordering.