A lot can happen in 10 years, I mean the fact that I’m sat here typing this review after having just done a Lateral Flow Test, largely to put my mind at rest, before going to a gig tomorrow night, would have sounded like it had been taken straight out of a work of fiction a decade ago. And I suppose if you’d told Exit_International frontman and bassist Scott Lee Andrews he’d soon be leaving his native Wales and be living in Australia just as the band were about to release their then debut album ‘Black Junk’ back in 2011, he’d probably have laughed you off the face of the planet.
One thing that time certainly cannot change though is the fact that Exit_International were totally unlike anyone else on the UK scene when they first emerged from the ashes of Midasuno and The Martini Henry Rifles just as the noughties entered the tenties (if such a term even exists).
I first encountered Exit_International in Cardiff’s (sadly) long lost Barfly venue supporting Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disaster and that night they totally blew my wig off. It wasn’t long before I was having ‘Sex W/ Strangers’ on a regular basis, reviewing the band live many times over for Uber Rock, and loving the fact that every encounter would deliver something new and give me something interesting to tell our readership. Be it the initial shock of watching a band without a guitarist (when everyone else seemed to be playing without a bassist), through to Scott, second bassist Fudge and drummer Adam playing in ill-fitting dresses one Halloween and showing way too much of their clackerbags every time they went full Steve Harris with the monitors. Or the fact that during two of the most memorable shows I saw them play, they not only played in the round but also on a totally makeshift backline and still managed to destroy all comers.
Exit_International always were about living in the moment (which I’m sure you will agree is kind of ironic given where they took their name from), so why am I so excited about owning a 10-year-old album once more, an album I had on the day of its initial release back on 17th September 2011? Well, perhaps it’s the fact it’s coming out on ultra-limited-edition coloured vinyl for the very first time, thanks to those wonderful people at Say Something Records? Or perhaps it’s the additional three bonus tracks (Japanese exclusives and B Sides from the era) that are tagged onto the tracklisting, oh and let’s not forget that Dave Draper has waved his sonic screwdriver over the original master tapes too. Thus, making this 10th Anniversary package a VERY attractive proposition indeed.
Pre-ordering the vinyl means you get an immediate download of the all-new 16 track version of ‘Black Junk 10’ as WAV files, so it’s that source from which this review is being based, but the first thing I had to do was go back to the original Carl Bevan (ex-60ft Dolls) produced CD, just to level the desk, so to speak.
The hi-hats that introduce the tenth anniversary version of ‘Glory Horn’ actually sound (to my ears at least) a little quieter than on the original expertly produced insanity, but as soon as the kick drum (literally) kicks in, the Dr Wooo tinkering becomes more than obvious, there’s certainly a much beefier aftertaste to ‘Sex W/ Strangers’ and the likes of ‘Sherman Fang’ and ‘Bowie’s Ghost’ sound so claustrophobic they could almost crack and break into the thousand disjointed pieces that make up the genius of Exit_International. Oh, and the bass sound midway through ‘Fang’ sounds like its Lemmy’s ghost Draper has been conjuring up on the ole studio Ouija soundboard, not Bowie’s.
I’ve always held the belief that a well thought out and executed remix can make an already established (and in this case excellent) album feel like a totally new record, and this has never been more applicable than with this reissue, as the re-touches, whilst subtle, are instantly effective, plus of course, with the three bonus tracks of ‘Lay To Waste’, ‘Black Junk’ and ‘Hex Lover’ being brought back into the fold, this means that without question this is now the definitive version of what was going on in the warped and fragile minds of Scott, Fudge and Adam a whole decade ago.
Look, in a world ravaged by division Exit_International, whilst musically always standing apart from much of the UK scene, were always about inclusion, they were the go-to place for (what society calls) the outcasts and the freaks to feel in control in a world they may have felt was way out of control, and sadly as is usually the case with such cult status bands, just as Exit_International looked like they might be breaking into the mainstream, largely via word of mouth, it was all over, and Scott was on a plane to Australia to start a new life.
Once Exit_International have touched your soul however, they never leave, and that’s why this 54 year old still connects with them, maybe even more so now than I did a decade ago, and its why the band themselves are already teasing a 2022 UK tour in support of this release. Don’t miss out on this VERY special band second time around because as Mrs. H just said “real class is timeless!”
HARDER, FASTER, BLACKER, JUNKER. ‘Black Junk 10’ is released on 17th September 2021, and you can own a copy by clicking Here
Author: Johnny Hayward