The Set List, by Brian Washburn
Punk rock exploded onto the national music radar in the late ’70s with revolutionary bands like The Ramones, The Stooges, The Sex Pistols and a plethora of others, most of which have a sound derived from the above three. The recognizable sound catapulted bands with leather jackets and mohawks to underground success. Though the sound and attitude still lives on today, it is a drastically reduced genre and fan base. It’s a shame though, since Fayetteville experimental punk band The Inner Party missed out on the half a decade of rebellion. The sound (and electronics) on The Inner Party’s debut EP “Honky Heretics” could have spiced up the uprising instead of letting it fade into rock ‘n’ roll history.
“Honky Heretics” begins with the title track, a short instrumental track building punk intensity mixed in with what could be noticed as Nine Inch Nails inspired electronics. The sound pulls listeners in at first listen, but then it dives into the next track, “Drunk Fool,” that combines cliche, punk-party lyrics with an even more cliched sound for this generation. The fast rhythm-driven guitars blend with the straightforward drum beat that could serve as its own time machine back into 1977. However, this is the only track of its kind to be found on the EP.
The rest of the release, more specifically “Untouchable,” differentiates between classic punk sentiments and those of the modern punk/industrial music scene worshiped in underground clubs, much like in the former’s heyday. The EP does contain its slowdowns (“Used Parts”) when it could have used another notch turned up. The 5 minute closer on the release “Nameless” — interestingly, the longest track by more than a minute — brings epic lyrics and building instruments to the EP’s ultimate conclusion. The only thing not found on the conclusion of the album is a conclusion itself. “Nameless” builds up to a bass solo leaving listeners with two options: either wanting more, or scratching their heads and wondering where in the world the ending went. Most will probably agree with the latter. An explosive punk-laced ending to the EP would have jolted not only “Nameless,” but the entire album to another level of punk musicianship.
Though the song structures could be modified, the instrumentation of “Honky Heretics” isn’t anything listeners wouldn’t expect from the genre. The drumming and bass lines kick harder than ever and give the EP a solid foundation. However, it is the vocals that really take listeners back to the dawn of punk and then pull them right back again to the modern day vocal ability of Trent Reznor, The Bravery and other industrial punk outfits. The guitar efforts on “Honky Heretics” are simple, rhythmic drive and nonstop. But they work. For the genre of music The Inner Party presents, the guitar work is perfect. A low-quality recording and mosh-party lyrics only intensify this fact. Why would the group settle for anything different though? Aren’t those aspects the basis punk rock was founded on? You bet they are. And The Inner Party does not pretend they are anything different.
“Honky Heretics” contains a nonstop array of experimental punk mixed with the raw energy that lives in the heart of every punk band, musician and fan. Though The Inner Party missed their opportunity to musically influence the nation by a few decades, it is still possible for the Fayetteville five-piece to find success through underground scenes around the area and possibly the mohawk sporting, rebellious minds that still exist throughout the world today.