For Whom The Bell Tolls: Million Dead

Ooger booger booger.

So. Bands break up. It sucks, but that’s the way of things. For most of them, the reason is pure and simple; on some level, they suck. Whether it’s only a little, or harder than a $20 hooker, it doesn’t matter; the world doesn’t lose a whole bunch. The members go on with their lives, and probably go on to make a greater impact in other areas of society. Like inventing a chocolate teapot.

Then there are bands that are forced into submission for other reasons: money, conflict – both personal and artistic – or sometimes the fanbase only comes after they’re long gone.

This is a chronicle of those bands. Most you will not have heard of, for the very reason that they’re not even around to promote themselves any more. But trust me, they are bands that you really really should have heard of.

This time around: Million Dead

We’re going a little more up-market this week with the long-defunct, but considerably better known Million Dead, who were favourites of the late, great John Peel, and have supported the awesome Cave In.

Named for a lyric in Refused‘s The Apollo Programme Was A Hoax, Million Dead continued their grand tradition of headstrong, politically-driven punk rock in a truly English fashion. Frontman and lyricist Frank Turner was (and still is, via his rapidly burgeoning acoustic solo career) able to paint a perfect picture of the disaffected British proles and the disillusioned middle class: the Winston Smiths of this world.

Whilst not even that heavy (post-hardcore tops), it is the clout and attitude of the band that earn them a deserved place in our hallowed halls. Their second and final album, Harmony No Harmony, is one of my summer soundtrack records; for whilst it is indeed ballsy wise, it is also catchy as fuck.

01.Bread and Circuses
02. Holloway Prison Blues
03. After the Rush Hour
04. Plan B
05. Carthago Est Delenda
06. To Whom It May Concern
07. Living the Dream
08. Margot Kidder
09. Murder and Create
10. Achilles Lung
11. Bovine Spungiform Economics
12. Father My Father
13. Engine Driver
14. Harmony No Harmony

Covering a range of topics from Francis Fukuyama to MacGyver, from Walt Disney to self-dissatisfaction, they were a voice you could identify with. In fact, the universality of the songs means they’re still relevant today; a favourite line of mine, the closing refrain from To Whom It May Concern goes:

My letter to the human resources department says:
You’ve started a war, so you’ll get what you started.
I’m only working here ‘cos I need the fucking money!

I’m pretty sure a lot of you reading this will identify with this last sentiment. If you don’t, it means one of three things: you’re still in full-time education; you’re following your career dreams; or you’re unemployed. If it’s one of the first two, then I fucking hate you, you jammy sod – but enough with my jealousy.

The album is packed with classics. Holloway Prison Blues. After the Rush Hour. Carthago Est Delenda. Their first album too, A Song to Ruin, is somewhat heavier, but no less awesome.

I’ve mentioned Frank Turner’s solo career – he’s been getting prime-time radio play of late, and his success is well deserved. Drummer Ben Dawson is now in Palehorse (who I have a suspicion are named after the band playing Madison Square Garden in Watchmen), who produce some bastard combination of two basses and a drumkit, and they sound pretty good to me. As for the rest of the band, I’m not sure, but if you’re that bothered I’m sure a little digging will yield results.

Turner really is the one to watch though; trust me.

Ciao, for now.

– CG

If you have any suggestions for this column, please send them my way to chris(at)heavyblogisheavy(dot)com or leave a message in the comments section!
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