There are few words to describe New Bedford, Massachusetts’ A Wilhelm Scream that haven’t already been said. For the better part of the century, they’ve been a force in the punk genre thanks to their no-bullshit attitude on record and the controlled chaos of their live shows. Fans of the band have been eagerly awaiting Partycrasher — their first recorded output since 2009’s self-titled EP, and their first full-length since 2007’s fantastic Career Suicide. While much has changed in the past six years, A Wilhelm Scream haven’t flinched from their mission statement, serving up 11 blasting, gritty diatribes without so much as taking a breath.
Whereas Career Suicide took its time to explore tempos and structures over 13 tracks, Partycrasher feels like it’s riding shotgun with its head out the window – forcefully plowing ahead into oblivion. Speed is the name of the game throughout the album’s 11 tracks, with only “Sassaquin” showing a cut, groove-like pace and acting as a well-placed changeup among a set of fastballs. Vocalist Nuno Pereira is in the peak form of his career, having fine-tuned his shouted melodies to the point where he leads the tone of the song as much as any instrument. In the breakdown of “Devil Don’t Know” the guitars cut out to leave Pereira and drummer Nicholas Angelini to run through the biting chorus of “I decided long ago to throw those years away / used to be in misery, but no more / I know I’ve been a sinner that’s just my history” before the guitars come careening back in for the repeated title line of “the devil don’t know I’m dead yet.” It’s a masterful moment, and one that Pereira has built a knack for over the course of five full length albums.
In keeping with past output, Partycrasher once again ups the ante as far as guitar work is concerned. While the blistering intro of “Ice Man Left a Trail” is sure to turn heads as soon as it comes on, the two-minute sprint of “Gut Sick Companion” holds another stellar performance from guitarists Trevor Reilly and Mike Supina as they weave frantically around each other, punctuating the song’s transitions and closing it out with some hefty muted chords. A Wilhelm Scream have always been among the more technically acrobatic bands in the punk scene, and Partycrasher finds them pushing themselves instead of going through the motions.
“Born a Wise Man” is a ferocious closer in line with classic A Wilhelm Scream tracks like “Dreaming of Throwing Up” and “We Built This City (On Debts and Booze)”. The lyrics are a whirlwind look backwards to youth in Eastern Massachusetts and the early days of the band, punctuated with the demand to “keep your eye out for the real thing.” After the second chorus the song breaks down to Pereira’s voice over guitars, with the lines, “practiced for weeks / we three in our parents’ basement / those looks weren’t deceiving / we were shaken, to the core” before a rollicking drum fill kicks the band back into gear. “Born A Wise Man” is a virtuosic, celebratory middle finger in the air. As Reilly spins the story of the band’s first gigs, his bandmates careen off each other in controlled bursts. It’s an all-encompassing statement on the band’s career – from humble roots, they harnessed their drive and never let up. With the last line Reilly asserts, “you’re right / there is no one / that can get it done / like us.” To be sure with Partycrasher, A Wilhelm Scream have confirmed this fact.