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In the UK, over 827 people have died following contact with the police since 2004, yet no officer has been convicted as a result since 1969. The case of Ian Tomlinson was an especially disturbing example, exposing not only the actions of the police, but of how eager much of the mainstream media were to defend the police before facts had been established. Fearing further protests as austerity becomes ever more deeply rooted in political discourse, the heads of the Association of Chief Police Officers have requested the use of water cannons against civilians. Students engaging in lawful protest on their own universities campuses have been “kettled”, and protest itself is coming to be treated as a criminal act. And this is to say nothing of how undercover police have a history of stealing the identities of dead children, spying on the families of murder victims, or how they began families with activists under false pretences before abandoning them; nor anything about the GCHQ revelations, or so many other examples of abuse of power. Even those traditionally allied to the police no longer trust them. Nor is it to even touch upon the neo-liberal ideology that Western politics is in thrall to, where justice is being treated as a commodity, valued only so far as it is “cost-effective”. Suffice to say, modern purveyors of crust-punk Cop Problem are a brilliantly, almost too relevantly, named band. And their latest release, Buried Beneath White Noise, is a brilliant, comparably relevant piece of righteously angry music.
Right from the word go, it’s clear that this is music that makes no secret of its intentions and views, pulling absolutely no punches. “For political gains/torture is justified/for monetary gains/murder is justified” shouts vocalist Deb Cohen during opening track “Bear Witness.” Each word is clear, and it’s a plus point that the band don’t need a lyrics sheet to get their message across. Meanwhile, the rest of the band play some passionate, urgent crust with a D-beat influence, simultaneously possessing a hard edge and a good grasp on melody, especially in some of the guitar work, and there’s some very impressive moments from the drums too. There’s some great changes of tempo and emphasis, and the band’s talent can’t be denied. You don’t have to agree with their political lyrics to enjoy music this good. It does what the best crust does, sweeping you along with its punk rock intensity and fury, whilst the metal-influenced turns keep things fresh and interesting. Final track “American Spring” is the pick of the bunch with some especially venomous lyrics, bringing the album to a suitably crushing close. Buried Beneath White Noise is definitely one of the better crust records I’ve heard in a while, and Cop Problem are one of the better bands of the style operating today.