Founded in 2013 in Newmarket, Ontario, Ship of Fools, cut their teeth in the Ontario and Quebec punk scene, garnering attention for their gruff, beer-soaked, melodic punk rock in the Southern Ontario tradition. The debut EP from 2015 ‘Broken Knuckles‘ signifying their intention to melt some faces with their raw and energetic live performances. ‘A Perfect Place For Harmony‘, their first LP was released in September 2018, which provided an opportunity for the band to increase their reputation by selling out their hometown shows and smash through some festival performances. Cut to 2021 and the first EP release via Hell for Breakfast, ‘Status Quo‘ gives us a taster, whetting the appetite for a bright future for this raucous, yet driven Canadian punk outfit.
Lead track, ‘Consequences‘, launches their rapid social commentary and manifesto for change on this rambunctious opener. Andrew Yeo barking out the lyrics, coupled with the anthemic punk riffs and a rhythm section that bustles along never seemingly taking a breath. Therein lies the beauty of punk rock, a short, sharp kick in the bollocks and you are on your way.
‘Cut Your Teeth‘ follows up with a galloping riff of an introduction and a mid-section of a bass interlude and picking before returning to a raucous and pacy finale. This 97-second track hammers home an inspirational message without any fanfare. As you would expect by now this is just the nature of the genre, a thoughtful introspection of societal ills shouted through a sweaty microphone, backed by a ferocious-paced battery of riffs and savage snares that sound like gunshots.
‘Open For Business‘ is a straight-out critique of governmental corruption and fascism, but ‘Ship of Fools‘ do not waver from their promotion of social unity and a desire to see right done by their people. Greg Nathaniel really earns his corn on this track, smashing the crap out of his kit. It sounds like cymbals are flying everywhere in an explosive performance on the drums.
Rounding us off on this EP is ‘Status Quo‘, which is by far the most diverse track which within it displays why this band is able to take this to the next level. There are some nice touches throughout this with melodic riffing, bass noodling and subtle time changes that show each musicians’ ability is highlighted on this punk anthem.
There is no beating about the bush with this release. ‘Ship of Fools‘ waste no time in getting their message across. Drawing influence from bands such as ‘Fucked Up‘, ‘Leatherface‘ and ‘Protest The Hero‘ to name but a few, this band, with their incredible work ethic and ferocious live performances, will no doubt forge a decent future based on this short, sharp, shock of an EP. There is plenty on here to suggest that crowds will love their generally upbeat, fight-against-the-system approach to their beer-soaked punk anthems. The only lament is that this is only four tracks but I feel sure that partnering with Hell for Breakfast and with production credits to Greg Hounsell (Brutal Youth) and Scott Middleton (Cancer Bats) that they are destined to be a part of an exciting future in the burgeoning punk and hardcore scene from Canada.
Maximum Overload is a perfect example of how a potentially great band can evolve their sound in ways that take them to a whole new level, while still maintaining all their core elements. Dragonforce fans can expect the same focus on ultra speedy, epic power metal as ever, but with a focus on heavier riff, shorter songs, and more varied songwriting than before. Any power metal fan who isn’t allergic to the more melodic and “cheesy” side of the genre is highly recommended to check this album out.