Talk Of Violence is guaranteed to be one of the most important hardcore/punk albums you listen to this year. Petrol Girls are ferocious, they compromise nothing when it comes to politics and rightly so – advocating radical social and political change is at the very core of their music. Be it smashing the gender binary, calling out sexism and misogyny or challenging stereotypes, everything this band produces is incredibly pertinent. They’re angry at an ignorant world unwilling to embrace change – a world that vilifies women who step outside gender roles. Refusing to be silenced, they follow in an attitude similar to vital bands such as RVIVR, Bikini Kill, and War On Women. Not only is their music painfully visceral and engaging, it’s liberating for all – empowering women and anyone who defies heteronormativity or the gender binary.
Irreverent single ‘Phallocentric’ resists the patriarchal world that we still seem to be mindlessly trapped in. Honestly, countless festivals still prioritise male bands and Petrol Girls are demanding that these conventions be ripped to shreds. Questioning the world’s obsession with the phallus as a symbol of male dominance, vocalist Ren Aldridge yells “unleash disorder, fuck what they taught us”, attacking our fixation on male sexuality and pleasure. They’re calling for a rejection of conservative attitudes about sex that are drilled into us through the media and sex education – the idea that the focus of heterosexual sex is male pleasure. Instead, they’re urging you to embrace and celebrate sexual diversity and help to destroy the stigma placed on female sexuality.
A catchy guitar riff introduces ‘Touch Me Again’. Aldridge’s angsty vocals erupt with rage yelling “it’s my body and my choice”. This track is about reclaiming the female body and gaining agency. Ending with the repeated “touch me again and I’ll fucking kill you” heightens the atmosphere of overwhelming frustration and discontent that pervades the album. They’re pissed off. They’re setting fire to societies oppressive attitudes towards women. Their infuriation bleeds into ‘Harpy’, a track dedicated to empowering “women with power”. It’s difficult to not get caught up in the wrath burning off of the cutting riffs and scathing vocals.
Serrated riffs and turbulent vocals in ‘Treading Water’ leave you unnerved, surrounded by hostility. Directly addressing themes of borders, austerity, climate change and unnecessary violence, it’s a plea for solidarity over division. The vocals jump unpredictably between furious screams and intricate melodies, representing conflicting views on “binary violence” and “border violence”. Jolting between the volatile yells of Aldridge and Joe York the track becomes riotous – they represent two voices pitted against each other, highlighting the division rife in current society.
Resistance is at the forefront of Talk Of Violence. Sadly, it says a lot about the state of the world that bands like Petrol Girls have to make music addressing these topics. However, some of the strongest albums speak out unabashedly about issues that many shy away from – and this is a prime example of the strongest. Petrol Girls are at the front of the protest, questioning and probing, tearing down binary systems and demanding change. It’s an explosive release, charged and sparking with rage – if it doesn’t ignite an inner fury in you then we’ll be surprised. Go smash the sys/cis-tem!