Rules – The Bummer Circus Comes to Truth City

  • Cole Faulkner posted
  • Reviews


The Bummer Circus Comes to Truth City - Stomp Records

After six years of on-again off-again existence, Southern Ontario psychedelic hardcore punkrock outfit, Rules, has finally released their debut studio full length, The Bummer Circus Comes to Truth City (aparently the title is an inside joke).  Consisting of members of the Creepshow, Penske File, Saint Alvia, Walk Off The Earth and more, the four-piece commits to a full bodied hardcore rock n’ roll sound that is unlike most of their aforementioned origins.  Think of a combination of Bronx, Western Addition and Motorhead and you’ll still only be about half way there.

Rules recorded the album live in the studio in just three takes.  By bridging transitions between tracks, The Bummer Circus Comes to Truth City feels like one continuous set.  Most songs bleed into their neighbour with ten to thirty second interludes of psychedelic reverb, either formally separating the track listing or sharing the tail end and opening moments between songs.  For example, “The Bummer Circus Is Coming To Town” is a minute long stumble through a psychedelic haze – as if blindly moving through a foggy mist, hands extended cautiously but curiously.  The end of the smoke trail leads into the hard rock riffs and lurching temperament of “The Rules Guide To The Misguided,” and is repeated later on tracks like “Victims” and “God Hates Flags.”  The track makes up three minutes of harsh, stylized riffs that lurch and explode like a tank navigating a minefield.  Such tough-as-nails head bangers existing on the melodic side of chaos stand to be well received by fans of After The Fall and Western Addiction.  Others like “Burning Bridges” take things further, igniting flames like a pyromaniac in a fireworks shop, sparking and detonating as intensely as anything from thrashy hardcore-punk revivalists, Gallows.

Under these layers of sonic intensity, Rules belts with ideological conviction and disdain over society’s rapidly increasing disparities.  Most explicitly, “But First A Word From Our Sponsor” takes a breather by using a sound clip from the 1948 Cold-War era propaganda cartoon, Make Mine Freedom. In it, Dr. Utopia – a travelling con-artist – rolls into town and presents a miracle cure for economic ailments.  Originally developed as a cautionary tale against those that should challenge Western capitalism, the message has been redeployed to a contemporary setting as a warning against blindly following a world that puts profits before people.

Rules is not something I would typically associate with the Stomp Records family, but it is a fun creative outlet for the band members that isn’t hard to get into once you become acclimatized.  The Bummer City Comes to Truth City takes chances where it counts, infusing a myriad of aggressive influences without overly depending on any single style.  Rules is an opportunity for this ragtag crew of established musicians to try something different by leaning into their guilty and not-so-guilty pleasures.  With an open mind, listeners will be banging their head along in grand fashion by the album’s end.