Fence “The New Diplomacy”

Album Reviews | Nov 30th, 2004

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Record Label: Luckee Records
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Judging from the CD title, cover artwork and inserts, my initial thought was that Fence was a straight-up gutter punk band. I took a look and spent some time reading the lyrics, and my second thought was the same as my first. Then something caught my eye, other than the fact that Fence hails from Norway. Most punk bands are usually composed of three or four members, right? Fence was made up of seven. A ska-punk band, I thought to myself? A political ska-punk band, I thought to myself? I began to doubt what I had originally thought. Maybe they’re not really ska or punk at all. Maybe Fence is more in the vein of bands such as the River City Rebels or The Strike. I decided to pop Fence in on my way to work.

As the first track, “Last Day” blared through my speakers, I immediately thought of the River City Rebels. “Last Day” had a very anthem-like hard rock/punk sound to it. The second song, which is also the title track, was more of the same…driving guitars, pounding bass, a glaring horn section, and a solid drum beat. I was digging Fence (pun intended) and couldn’t help tapping my feet to the rhythm. At the third track, titled “The Streets Of Oslo”, I got my first taste of the variety that Fence displays. Instantly, I was pelted with ska upstrokes, mellow horns buzzing, and a slow bass groove. This song was a complete change of direction when compared to the first two songs, but seemed to fit right in order with the rest of the album so far. “The Streets Of Oslo” had an infectious ska/reggae beat backed up against a brass part that bordered on the brink of jazz, but hovered closer to the sound of the Slackers. I found myself repeating this track a few times. After about a half dozen listens, I decided to move on with the album. It was time for Fence’s ska influence to shine. A third-wave ska instrumental clocked in for the next minute followed immediately by a heavy ska/punk track that, from what I could read, focused on the loss of innocence and youth due to senseless wars. The most skank-able song comes a few tracks later with “We’re Not Punk”, a song that delivers a potent message towards the ignorant countries that strive to engulf the entire world with what they call “the great democracy” no matter the cost or repercussions. “We’re not punk, we’re just concerned, about a system that churns our hearts and our minds into feeling content as the world burns.” The lyrics bite at what America and its allies try to do with cover-ups and false information directed at its citizens and the rest of the world. Running its course, “The New Diplomacy” continues to branch out with a compelling acoustic track (and I’m not one for an acoustic track), some straightforward hard rock, and a massive dose of punk and ska clocking over at roughly forty-two minutes.

Ignorance, deceit, and political undertones are the focus throughout almost all of the songs on “The New Diplomacy”. Heartbreak, the failings of love, rape, and sexual discrimination round out what remains…not as filler, but as a look into not only the minds of this band, but its heart and soul as well. Not once did I lose focus or was disappointed by a single track. Fence carries the torch of bands that speak out against what they feel is wrong in the world and what they believe in. Nowadays, the wrongs seem to outweigh the right. This album should not only open your ears towards a new band, but it should open your eyes to what goes on around you no matter where it is you call home.


Bottom Line: If bands like Operation Ivy, Common Rider, Anti-Flag, or the Mighty Mighty Bosstones interest you, you should like Fence. Very good politically charged, rock-tinged punk/ska.
Notable Tracks: The Streets Of Oslo, Dye The Flag, We’re Not Punk, Scorched Earth, Blood & Oil Part 2, The Failings Of John Doe
Overall Rating: