Capital Punishment: This Is Capital Punishment

Capital Punishment - This Is Capital Punishment
Capital Punishment
This Is Capital Punishment
Out on December 7th, 2018
Limited Edition Physical Release As Part of Record Store Day’s Black Friday, November 23rd 2018

by Alex Plant

Capital Punishment’s debut LP Roadkill was all but forgotten until its 2018 rediscovery and subsequent reissue. Originally released in 1982 by a now-defunct label, it failed to make a splash, most probably because no one knew what to do with it, least of all the band themselves. However, it’s a fascinating piece of avant-garde rock that’s well worth checking out, made all the more interesting when you realise that the musicians were, at the time, in their teens. It’s the sort of wonderfully unfiltered, purposely outlandish madness that could have only come from four teenagers with nothing to lose and the desire to just, like, freak people out, man.

This is Capital Punishment is a somewhat different beast and serves as an interesting companion piece. After disbanding nearly 35 years ago upon attending college, the band all pursued their own individual careers, with one of them becoming not only a Hollywood superstar, but one of the most recognisable faces in modern comedy. Yes, that’s right. This band’s drummer is none other than Ben Stiller. But don’t let that distract you; this isn’t one of those “I’m-an-artist-and-I’ll-do-whatever-I-goddamn-like” sorta deals. There’s no sense of pretension, given that Capital Punishment have a history that predates Stiller’s celebrity, and, honestly, does he really seem like that sort of guy? Indeed, this new EP feels and sounds like music made by men who’ve earned the sort of wisdom and confidence that only comes with age, rather than the gloriously naive experimental sonic ejaculation of teenagers let loose in the studio that preceded it, and that is no bad thing. This is most evident in lead single Confusion, which is a reworking of a track off Roadkill. It retains the chaotic charm of the original, but the slick, somewhat less gimmicky approach to the production makes for a more refined experience.

The other four tracks are all new compositions, born out of one-on-one jam sessions from band leader Kriss Roebling and Stiller, with the other members adding their respective contributions in individual sessions. They retain the same refined focus heard on Confusion, but feature an almost Jane’s Addiction-esque swagger. Highlights include the laid-back and thoughtful Grey and Illuminate and red-blooded rockers, Hot Love and Shannon Rose, which are definitely likely to get your head nodding, if not quite banging.

There’s an electronic, post-industrial sheen that elevates the guitar tones above that of disposable riff-rock. Along with rich synth textures, a diverse vocal approach, and Stiller’s subtle and accomplished drumming, this EP is a certified grower that warrants several re-listens. There’s a definite sense that the older, wiser Capital Punishment have another great album in their future and possibly even a radio-friendly hit.


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