Battalion of Saints
Fighting Boys 12” EP
1982 – Nutron Records
George Anthony – Vocals
Chris Smith – Guitar
James Cooper – Bass
Ted Olsen – Drums
1 – E/B 1:11
2 – Fighting Boys 1:43
3 – Modern Day Heroes 1:13
4 – (I’m Wanna) Make You Scream 2:28
I remember the exact moment that I first found out about Battalion of Saints, it was when I picked up Flipside number 31, the Spring 1982 issue. I would do my usual flip-through, then go back, and read whatever caught my eye. I would start flipping through, and it was there on page eleven, staring back at me was some of the coolest artwork, punk or otherwise, that I had ever seen! This guy “Mad” Marc Rude had taken every cool art element, comic book, graffiti, and thrown it all together into one cool-ass piece of work. It reminded me, a bit, of the Bernie Wrightson art from the early 1970’s Swamp Thing comics, but a bit more dangerous.
Like most of my purchases back then, I made the trip down to Moby Disc in Sherman Oaks, CA to pick this one up. I know the saying goes “never judge a book by its cover,” but in this case . . . I did just that. I admit it, based solely on Marc Rude’s art I bought this! The packaging was incredibly slick, there was also a poster inside, and they really went all out. The band only pressed 2,000 copies of this EP.
What surprised me about them was, I later learned, was that they were from San Diego, but looked like they were a British band, like they may have grown up down the street from Discharge. At one point they had Capt. Scarlet play bass for them. Scarlet, who was from England, had played for the Exploited, and the U.K. Subs for a short time. From 1978 to 1981, they played under the name the Nutrons.
Something else that impressed me was, the singer, George Anthony’s tattoos, he had some really good-looking tattoos. Now, this was before the early 1990’s Mickey Rourke era tattoo explosion. One of his tattoos was a skull on a bible, and another was some kind of skeletal creature in a graveyard. Great looking.
I have to admit when I put the record on, back in 1981, I liked all of the songs right off. They had a definite wall of sound about them. But as I am writing this I’m re-listening to this for the first time in almost 20 years, I now think songs one, and three are pretty much filler tracks. They were typical of most of the music coming out at that time. There’s a lot of energy in these songs, but “(I’m Wanna) Make You Scream” is Battalion at their best. The guitar in this song is really infectious, and George Anthony’s vocals soar.
E/B, the first track, and the shortest track has a lot of energy, but the lyrics, like all of the tracks on this EP, were a bit weak. After listening to Bad Religion, and hearing the type of lyrics Greg Graffin was able to produce at the age of 16 is phenomenal. Graffin was able to make very socially conscious songs without compromising the sound, or quality of the song. Another notable lyrist was Darby Crash, he had an ability to write about things and have you understand, and be confused at the same time. E/B was done in kind of a British hardcore style, slipping between screaming, and a singsong type chorus. I have no idea what the title means. If you listened to any Hardcore in the early 80’s you probably heard these types of lyrics rehashed a few times. The lyric “Governments will try to make sure we have no private lives” is more relevant in this current administration, than ever before.
Fighting Boys, the second track, has a lot of energy in this song. The verses are so wordy, that at times it seems like George is rushing past the music to spit them out. After a few listens, the chorus hooks you:
“Fighting boys have no choice
But to Fight, Fight, Fight
Fighting boys go out in the streets
And go wild!”
Modern Day Heroes is probably the worst song on here. I understand what the plan was here. Like most of the British Hardcore bands of the time they were very socially and politically aware, so this is what Battalion was trying to do on this side of the pond, but because of the way it was written it comes off sounding very forced:
“Killers now are so drab
They’re modern day heroes
Killers are now heroes
Modern day heroes
Killers are now heroes.”
(I Wanna) Make You Scream, the longest song on the EP, music-wise this is also the best song. By the time you get to this track all the doom and gloom is a bit much. Having been a fan of this type of music for a little under forty years, I’m not saying I want a happy-go-lucky type track, but different groups of this time, like the Adolescents have given the negativity a break for a second and still were able to put out good tracks like Amoeba. Whether you liked Amoeba, or not, it was a fun track.
“I wanna make you scream
With his hands around your neck
I wanna make you scream
It’s a better world now that you’re dead.”
Like all hardcore music from this time, you have to be in the mood for certain bands. But this one is cool to own, throw it on when you’re driving or having a party. A short party, the EP is only 6:34 minutes. But by today’s standards, that’s 30 minutes of someone else’s music. The original EP is extremely rare, every once in a while a bootleg of this will pop up (one from Mexico came out years ago on green vinyl), and the music has been re-released on a CD called Death R Us, released in 1995. They also had three original songs on the BYO Records compilation “Someone Got Their Head Kicked In,” which was, also, released in 1982.
The original Battalion of Saints lineup put out the “Fighting Boys” 12″ EP, and the “Second Coming” LP, plus numerous compilation tracks. Most of this material has been re-released on the “Death-R-Us” CD available on Taang Records.
In 1984, Chris Smith the guitarist for Battalion of Saints died. The story was that he slipped in the bathtub, and cracked his head open, proceeding to drown. They actually had found him lying dead in the bathtub with syringes lying all over the place from shooting up heroin, and speed.
In 2002, Battalion of Saints reformed, the current line-up includes San Diego veterans Matt Anderson on bass, Scott Bartoloni on guitar, Steve “Gerabix” Gearhardt & Mario Rubalcaba sharing duties on drums, and Londis “TK” Kues also on guitar.
Rating: ** * two out of three stars
The standout cuts are: (I Wanna) Make You Scream and Fighting Boys.
If you can find it, give it a try.
Misconceptions of Hell is available now: http://goo.gl/n9ofGb