Each stop on this year's Warped Tour drew tens of thousands of anxious punks, eager to get their rock on in a hot, sweaty parking lot. With tour attendance slipping, the Warped Tour's unstoppable success is probably a signal that punk's doing something right.
For Sweden's C.AARME, it means something else: Punk's doing something very, very wrong.
Despite the fact that an Epitaph under-label issued its debut and its Swedish heritage, C.AARME would fit as comfortably onto a Warped Tour side stage as Marilyn Manson would heading up the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Breaking from the legions of Bad Religion wannabes, Rancid disciples, Braid clones, and pop-punk grommets, C.AARME plays punk as it's supposed to be: fast, loud and especially dirty.
Just about everyone should be able to agree that C.AARME isn't about which you'll anything to complain. Rather than play it safe and follow in the footsteps of another band's marketing, C.AARME flails about with the violence and intensity of the earliest punk acts. The hilariously titled "Tu Puta Mi Casa" flexes its muscles with crashing drums, guitars that sound as if the band tossed them down the studio's stoop five minutes before recording and an over-the-top intensity that turns its Stooges on speed sound into little more than a crusty drone. "Moron" builds on the one-track-minded riffs of The Germs or Bad Brains. The grinding riffs of "The Gag" make listeners feel like they just emerged from a 95-mph car crash, only to have attending paramedics kick them in the nuts. Brutal, no-nonsense and utterly abrasive, C.AARME is the sort of album you're bound to like if you truly like punk.
You'll like the gang of Swedish miscreants, but it's hard to love them. Ready for Hot Topic the band sure as hell isn't, but that doesn't mean it's 100 percent original, either. With the weight of 25 years' punk history bearing down on it, it's impossible not to hear the legacy of everyone from The Dead Boys and The Stooges to Black Flag, The Germs and Bad Brains pressing down on the band's sound. The weight isn't enough to squash C.AARME, but it prevents the band from ever tossing away its ties to punk's past.