Active Minds formed in the beginning of 1986 in Scarborough, UK. This raging duo consisting of two brothers, Set and Bobs, has stuck around without taking a break for 33 years (the age of Christ, lol) now, always pushing the envelope further with an unapolegetic lyrical approach to address the pressing issues of the day, relentless do-it-yourself ethics, and endless socio-political commentaries / essays to be found within the inner sleeves of their records.
I grew up listening to Active Minds and yet they still manage to take me by surprise with their new releases. In 2017 they released their 9th full-length The Age of Mass Distraction to tackle on the destructive economic system we are living in, and how the masses are still kept distracted and herded like sheep while injustice, greed and war are everywhere around us. With Religion is Nonsense they crank out 12 new songs—released on a 10″ vinyl record—that are still Active Minds to the bone. The cover artwork depicting the main protagonist of Monthy Python’s “Life of Brian” is not only hilarious, but fucking amazing! They even have a screen printed picture of Brian on a piece of cloth (their kind of Turin shroud, I guess) inside the record sleeve.
Musically, Active Minds are still staunchly clinging to their classic take on 80s thrash and hardcore punk tropes (Electro Hippies, Discharge, Extreme Noise Terror, and Sore Throat, to name a few). Drumming is an unrelenting barrage of thrashing punk attacks and riffs are fuzzed-out and furious, with a lot of feedback noise going on in all directions. Most of the tracks blew past quite quickly, especially the 11-seconds title song “Religion is Nonsense”.
I don’t care what your invisible friend has to say. Religion is fucking nonsense.
However, this is not a record where everything sounds the same in such a frenetic, breakneck speed fashion. There are actually four pretty melodic songs on here that last over the 3-minute mark. On these tracks, the Scarborough thrashers sound more like Leatherface or Petrograd, but it’s still nothing really new about that when you look back at their impressive discography.
Lyrically, organized religion is on the receiving end of Active Minds’ disdain for multiple reasons, and we all know quite well where this is coming from. But don’t take this record as mere anti-religious manifesto. They also give the well-deserved punch to nationalism, xenophobia, tough guy mentality, and are deeply worried about today’s youth being deprived of their innocence and hopes for a better future due to street gang violence, social media bullying, and the use of antidepressants to cope with the fucked up system they are forced to grow up in.
Yes, it may sound like we’re living in the midst of a nightmare, but the last two songs—”A Vision of The Future” and “Life is A Political Action”—are actually filled with heaps of hope and calls to action. Because Active Minds have always been about being active. Think. Act. Smash to fuck the fuckin’ system. (Well, the last one was actually Discharge, amirite?)