Working Class League
Having been in the game for about a decade now, Sweden’s Container 90 have no delusions of crossover success or even wider acceptance within the dark music scene on the whole (check the “Copycat” video below for proof). It’s old school EBM all the way for Jonas Rundberg and Ronny Larsson, and of a cast which, like fellow Swedes T.W.A.T., is far more interested in the aesthetics and themes of classic Oi! than anhalt’s usual topics (war, technology, the body). That said, despite an wholly unsubtle attitude and presentation, there’s just enough nuance in Working Class League‘s arrangements to give it appeal above and beyond its immediate beer-fueled vitriol.
While the basslines are often hewn from the same dependable 80s sources any number of anhalt bands turn to (DAF, Nitzer), the drums and synth leads on Container 90’s third LP are much more fluid and idiosyncratic in their syncopation and structure. I guess I could point to, say, Cat Rapes Dog as a marker, but the goofy sampling, quick changes of elements keep C90 well out of the pure tribute act category (not that there’s anything wrong with that, Jäger 90). Between very lively drum sounds, symphonic intros, and bubbling arpeggios, Working Class League feels colourful back to front.
That vibrancy meshes well with the specific vision of Oi!’s topics and refrains that Container 90 bring to their tracks. While maybe not as melodic as Cock Sparrer or as cold as The Last Resort, “Repeat Delete” has the same prideful anthemic spirit that’s kept oi alive in the hearts and minds of US street punks and UK dockworkers. In addition to celebrating working class pride, Container 90 drop impart practical and actionable life lessons: don’t trust cops (“Murphys Law”), and always carry a bottle opener (“Key Of Life”), for example. Even after that, there’s still enough room for some meta celebration of the very genre they’re working in on “Taste The Fist” (“uncompromising and raw as life: taste the fist of EBM!”), and an unexpected and somber closing cover of “Working Class Hero”.
If I’ve learned one thing about Swedish EBM in the past few years, it’s that it’s a big tent. The likes of Spark!, The Pain Machinery, and Agent Side Grinder all cover a huge range of territory, and even when you drill down to the “Swedish working class Oi!BM” level of granularity, there’s still a lot distinguishing Container 90 from T.W.A.T. The former have found a way to broaden their sound a bit, but have kept the punky fun of earlier albums like World Champion Shit intact. Container 90 aren’t going out of their way to appeal to anyone who doesn’t already love old school sounds, but if you’re an anhalt fan be sure to keep your ears open when cracking a beer and spinning Working Class League: there’s plenty of craft between the chants.