Pro-Pain - 20 Years of Hardcore (AFM Records)

An entertaining look back at two decades of uncompromising brutality

AC/DC aside, it’s almost impossible to think of a band which has been around as long as Pro-Pain without making a single solitary effort to grow or evolve their sound. Even three chord bozos Status Quo don’t quite sound like they used to, whereas  PP mainman Gary Meskill and whoever is assisting him under the Pro-Pain banner sound, on the four new songs specially recorded for this best-of retrospective, exactly as they did the first time I saw them in London at the Marquee Club all those years ago. This is unequivocally not a bad thing, since few bands purvey quite such a convincing brand of stripped-down, metalized hardcore as Meskill and co. The 2011 version of the bands signature tune, Make War (Not Love) is a brutal recapitulation of what’s made this outfit so special over the last twenty years and, without wishing to labour the point, stood next to the best of the new songs here, the rhythmically aggressive Damnation, it really is a case of aural spot the difference.
You won’t be able to, of course, but that’s all part of the charm.  In fact, the only variation to be found anywhere on this CD/DVD extravaganza is the excellent cover of Bohse Onkelz’ Keine Amnestie Fur MTV,  thoughtfully thrown in as an appealing bonus which acts well as a buffer between the studio and live tracks offered up here. These live tracks don’t offer the same snub-nosed aggression as their studio counterparts, purely because they sound much rawer and looser than the studio tracks but, for the Pro-Pain completest they’ll make a welcome addition to the canon, particularly the muscular version of Unrestrained. Good stuff.