When it comes to nailing your colours to the mast, describing yourselves as “raging feminist hardcore” certainly doesn’t pull any punches. And how refreshing for a band to make a real statement when so many of the supposed “punk” or even “hardcore” acts that surface these days turn out just to be another wishy-washy alt-rock job with not a beating heart to be found.
These ladies (plus one dude) from South East London are aggressively anti-establishment (“I’ll burn the state right through the ceiling”) and play with a burning intelligence as displayed within the carefully crafted yet explosive riffage on EP opener ‘Restless’. Their songs feel poignantly real and relevant because they discard generic hardcore structures and rhythms in favour of their own character and path.
For instance, listen to the breakdown on ‘System’. Your every day, ten a penny hardcore outfit would just throw in a big wham-bam riff lifted straight out of a Sick Of It All track. Petrol Girls choose a slow burning, atmospheric sound that shakes with fury and induces instant and uncontrollable head-banging.
Ren Aldridge’s furious, blood curdling howls have a dangerous, slightly unhinged nature to them which is definitely reminiscent of the unpredictable presence that Kathleen Hanna held whilst in Bikini Kill. Lyrically, her themes are as blunt and unrestrained as everything else about the band. “You waged this war, peaceful protest is dead, what did you expect?”
Petrol Girls already have the feel of one of those bands who carve a reputation for themselves by standing for something, by taking great delight in fucking shit up and by really putting themselves out there and not dawdling in neutrality. It’s exciting to see a new band like this and a wake-up call for everyone else.
– Alex Phelan