If you were a fan of punk rock in Calgary in my generation (that would be Generation X, or is it Y?), you grew up with Belvedere. Although perhaps not the most successful band of its genre to come out of cowtown, Belvedere have certainly attained the status of hometown heroes many years ago.
Despite breaking up in the early noughties, the band started playing shows again in 2012, and the warm response no doubt encouraged them to keep the old Belvy train a rolling and eventually lead to this new record you’re reading about right now. Thus fulfilling the new millennial punk rock rule of broken up punk bands reuniting (bands that need a break really need to start using the word hiatus more often).
So while the fans get a kick out of the bands they heart reappearing, the problem with that when it comes to comeback albums is obvious: do theses dudes still have it? After all, Belvedere’s best known album, Fast Forward Eats The Tape, came out twelve freakin years ago.
So I’m happy to report that if you were worried that this particular foursome had matured beyond the sound you knew and loved, they haven’t. Well, not that much.
They definitely sound a little older. In fact, at times they sound like older dudes trying to sound like younger dudes and not quite pulling it off. I know this is as an attempt to recapture their core sound and tap into whatever was making them tick back in the day, and that’s admirable, but it can get in the way of the songwriting. Which is otherwise strong throughout. It will tickle your early noughtie bone and drench you in nostalgia. It will remind you of Calgary, if you’re at all familiar with the city and its previously vibrant punk scene, and it will remind you why you got into this type of music in the first place. Does it sound dated? It does a little, yeah. But it’s a rare band that can make a name for itself playing a type of music that was popular fifteen or twenty years ago, break up and reform and continue on playing that music and still have it sound fresh and contemporary without alienating its audience in the process (although, Good Riddance recently accomplished that very feat).
The Revenge of The Fifth is a good album though. It’s well played and played with heart and verve. It’s catchy as hell and enjoys straddling the line between punk and metal without ever completely committing to either one.
‘Hairline’, ‘Red Pawn’s Race’ and ‘The Architect’ are the standouts here and if you don’t want to buy the whole album (because who the hell buys whole albums anymore?), you should at least reach into your change purse and cough up a couple of loonies for those little gems.
And keep an eye out for the band at a venue near you. Something tells me they’ll be swinging through your town sooner or later.
Read more interviews, reviews, and other features free in June 2016 Vandala Magazine