With its simple but effective chord progressions, accented vocals, and breakneck tempos, Subhumans’ “From the Cradle to the Grave” is quintessential British punk.
Not to be confused with the Canadian band of the same name, Subhumans have been active and making music, breakups and reunions aside, since 1980. “From the Cradle to the Grave” is a 1984 release with a moderate runtime of 41 minutes, 17 of which are occupied by the title track. Though Subhumans are a punk band through and through, the longer track showcases a dip into progressive territory, though the song itself remains consistent in its rough punk sound and doesn’t adhere to the flashier elements of a true prog track.
Overall, the album sounds about how you would expect if you read the band’s Wikipedia page, as I did, before listening to the album. I wasn’t feeling having to get out a CD player as I was sifting through the collection of CDs I grabbed from the station’s Free shelf to listen through and review, and as it so happened, “From the Cradle to the Grave” was available on Spotify, so like the heretic I am, I chose the digital format over the physical.
The tracks themselves are hard-hitting if not necessarily catchy. The vocals, in true hardcore punk form, are hard to understand, masked by the banging guitar riffs and the singer’s British accent, which comes through loud and clear as a staple of the genre. I had trouble, but not unexpectedly, telling where one song ended and another began, with the three-chord progressions blending together somewhat and the frequent changes in tempo and melody that happened even within a single song. Tracks from the second half of the album stand out more to me, with “Adversity,” “Rain,” and of course the title track being my personal favorites. I don’t like to give a number rating to music, but overall if you’re a fan of the British punk sound or just looking for loud, fast, and shouty music, I recommend “From the Cradle to the Grave.”