There are certain undeniable events that you just know will occur every year. People will celebrate birthdays, loved ones will pass away and Everton will avoid relegation by the skin of their teeth. It also seems fitting that we should add the release of the annual punk-o-rama sampler to that list. This year sees the Epitaph sampler make it's seventh outing. As usual it is packed full of tracks that showcase the latest Epitaph releases, and, with a staggering 21 bands on display, the strength in depth of the label is very apparent.
Over the years the punk-o-rama discs have built a reputation of offering excellent value for money, and for showcasing a number of quality acts. This disc is no different. The only negative thing to be mentioned is that, unlike a lot of other samplers, the punk-o-rama series rarely features unreleased tracks.
Punk-o-rama 7 features just three unreleased tracks, from Hot Water Music, Guttermouth and Heideroosjes. As you would expect from a band of Hot Water Music's quality, 'Wayfarer' is a snarling beast of a song, and one that fans of the band will want to own. 'We're all Fucked Up' is Heideroosjess effort, and is a fairly decent track, nothing special, but not bad by any means. However, Guttermouth's 'My Girlfriend' is easily the worst song on the compilation. It is not funny and is without a single redeeming feature.
So, with the unreleased tracks out of the way, the rest of the sampler proves to be a highlights package of the past year's releases, with a couple of Burning Heart acts thrown in for good measure. We are also treated to a couple of tracks from the BYO NOFX/Rancid split, in the shape of NOFX's tired version of 'Olympia, WA' and Rancid's excellent cover of 'Bob'.
There has been an accusation thrown at Epitaph in recent times that most of their bands sound the same. However, a quick listen to all acts on this compilation reveals a broad and diverse range of sounds, from the straightforward punk rock of the Deviates to the pseudo-Irish ramblings of the Dropkick Murphys.
Punk-o-rama 7 manages to create a nice balance between established acts, such as Bad Religion, Pennywise and Agnostic Front, and newer acts such as 1208, who contribute one of the samplers' standout tracks in the shape of 'Outside Looking In', a great slice of melodic hardcore. Other notable tracks come from Beatsteaks with 'God Knows', and Pulley with the catchy 'Hooray For Me'.
With punk-o-rama 7, Epitaph have produced a sampler disc with something with everyone. There are very few bad tracks on the compilation and a couple of excellent ones. You will own some of the tracks on the album, but its very unlikely you will own more than half. As with all label samplers it won't burn a hole in your pocket and with 21 tracks for under a fiver it is great value for money.
Our Rating: ****
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