Rubella Ballet are the brainchild of former Flux of Pink Indians drummer Sid Truelove and ’77 punk fashion innovator Zillah Minx, a pedigree which immediately brings to mind a certain musical approach. The opening and title track suggests that this approach will eschew subtleties in favour of creating a lyric sheet culled from the backs of leather jackets at Exploited gigs, with its refrain of ‘punk, punk, planet punk, she’s a punk rocker from planet punk’. Luckily the next track ‘All Potential Terrorists’ picks things up, with its social commentary married to a solid, hook laden slice of 70’s punk.
From here on in the group manoeuvre a strange space somewhere between UK 82, anarcho and the industrial drum-lead chug of Nine Inch Nails. This creates a looming sense of menace which perfectly complements the political and social issues which are targeted by the lyrics. The banking system, the Illuminati and the threat of nuclear apocalypse are all laid out in front of a crushing soundtrack which sometimes goes out of its way to challenge the listener.
Standouts are the aforementioned ‘All Potential Terrorists’, the anti-prescription drug/pro-THC rally of ‘Hellbilly Heroin’ and the creeping paranoia of ‘Biohazard’ where a mid-tempo rhythm and grunge laden guitar click into place with Zillah’s flat vocal holler (although I am very much unsure about the dubstep beat which occasionally attempts to break through). ‘Wonderful Life’ is a cruncher worth noting for its bass line, bringing to mind as it does Lights, Camera…Revolution era Suicidal Tendencies.
The album as a whole flirts with different styles while still keeping hold of the same basic sound, with the end result being an unusual piece of music connected by a lingering sense of darkness. Despite no overriding theme there is a hint of concept album; in its recurring themes, in its musical tone and especially in the album’s zenith, the 6+ minute goth rock epic ‘Starship Transporter’. Rubella Ballet were unique at the time of their inception for their aesthetic and musical separation from the rest of the anarcho scene and continue to separate themselves from the crowd by constantly exploring new musical ground. While not a constantly sure fire proposition, their musical exploration bears fruit with enough regularity to warrant checking Planet Punk out.