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Label: 5A Pro / Udruženje Pogon Kulture Novi Sad / Crni Ovan

Date: March 28th, 2024

The third instalment of this feat of punk archaeology is before us, with three more artifacts to be put up into the public ear. And would you look at that!? It sold out within the month of its release, meaning that the good work by these publishing collectives is getting bigger and wider recognition. Rediscovering talent from decades ago is already a standard in global circles, but we’re talking about a tight geographical sphere on this LP (as well as its predecessors whose reviews you can also find on these here pages). Novi Sad is a big punk determinant in Serbian conditions, but just a small dot in a worldwide setting. However, the punk bounty that comes from a city with less than three hundred thousand residents is astonishing. The roots of which keep being dug up and pressed on vinyl by a bunch of persistent, punk-crazed yet culturally aware individuals.

Of course, publications like this one are next to worthless without a context. The vinyl, therefore, comes with a hefty insert which starts from an introduction that places listeners into the correct era, social and political circumstances as well as a decent musical background of the age in question. Next comes a segment about the oi and street punk scene and where they come into play in the bleak years of Novi Sad (and Serbia in general). Then we’re off to biographies of all three bands present on the record. Very detailed and filled to the brim with many photos and complete lyrics for all the songs. Except for the lyrics, all other texts are written both in Serbian and English, so whether you’re from Novi Sad or New Zealand, you’ll easily be included into the story of Novi Sad oi punk from the 1990s.

Right there I’ve given away the “big mystery”. All three bands on the vinyl are performing a similarly styled oi or street punk. That’s a sort of a further connection for the third issue of this edition. Other than that, it pretty much keeps to the path chosen on the premier issue, two years ago. Not that there was a reason to change anything, as there was nothing to add or remove. The crew behind all of these releases is experienced and highly skilled, so the work keeps an extremely high level of execution.

Now, as far as the music is concerned, the release is opened by Blitzkrieg. The band went the furthest of the three presented here, was active well into the 21st century and are the easiest to dig up. So, there are only two tracks of theirs, the second demo recording, from 1995. There’s no mistake, since they were already active for a couple of years by that time, their creation went through a definite refinement. A lesson learned from an older generation, since the band received arranging help from Mr. Predrag Jandrić Gaga from a decade old (at the time), legendary band Vrisak Generacije.

The music, though in essence a pure oi punk, is very melodic (not unlike the mentioned Vrisak Generacije) and heavily relies on guitar leads that guide the songs to the memorable and highly catchy choruses. The lyrics are also a bit better than with their counterparts on the vinyl, though still laden with clichés and youthful paroles. Still, there’s more than a bit of enjoyment to discover Blitzkrieg. Novi Sad’s Blitzkrieg, that is, since the name of the band is probably the least inspired of anything they’ve created. Overall, a good job that could maybe inspire reincarnation of other stuff they’ve released over the course of their career.

Jedino Rešenje is presented with the only recording they’ve left behind. Five songs of, again, street punk. In this case, though, the melody not as exaggerated and the band much rather relies on hard riffing that lead guitar fluctuations. Also, there are a couple of segments which could be inspired by post punk, but those are just bits and pieces.

The one proper step out of the box is the song “Oni”, where Jedino Rešenje goes full-on ska, while accompanied by a piano. Of course, like the rest of the songs, this one also keeps to the core of the genre at hand. The band kept to the tracks of their rolemodels which is perfectly fine and altogether natural, keeping in mind their age and the timeframe of national misery from which they’ve emerged.

The third band on the record is Pure Impact, presented with two recordings. The second demo from 1997 and two songs off the first demo from 1995. This band was probably the furthest from the roots of street punk, out of the three on the LP. You can feel a strong post punk link almost throughout the second demo. Most obviously in “Gde su oni sada”, which has a very dark aura, though the opener “Intro / Vlast” has a similar vibe, but with a tougher backbone. The carrier of this feeling is definitely the voice which is profusely reverbed. Accentuated by bass guitar, Pure Impact’s impact leans on the legacy Joy Division, though less so than on the story of early Cockneys or The 4-Skins. The first demo is much purer than its follower. There’s the initial oi punk, both in music and message conveyed.

As the needle lifts up, feeling nostalgic is unavoidable. I can only imagine what it must be like for those that were there. I’m a little bit younger but even I can feel the age of making it all out of nothing whatsoever. These bands made it into the history books, or rather the history vinyls, not because they were the most skilled, the best equipped, the most creative or the best there ever were. They were young, naïve, disadvantaged in all possible regards. All they had was heart and you would be amazed how often that is the decisive factor in whether the band gets to where it needs to. These three are the third bunch in line which doesn’t end here. If it even ends…

 

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