London based vocalist Tara Rez and keyboard/bassist Andy Theirum put The Duel together as a going concern in 2001, released a series of albums, “Let’s Finish What We Started”, “All Aboard the Crazy Train”, “Childish Behaviour” and enjoyed a variety of influential live support slots from punk stalwarts the Dead Kennedys, UK Subs, Slits, The Vibrators, Sham 69 and Vice Squad. This distinguished career has gained the band loyal supporters and earned them the respect of fans and peers alike. “Soundtrack to the End of the World (The Zak Splash Story)”, their latest release, is brimming with infectious melodies, that may not please the noise aficionado or the listener who seeks aggression and belligerence, but is indicative of a band who are comfortable with their song structures and playing style and are not afraid to share it with their community.
The opening ‘Intro’ is a sizzling instrumental driven along on excitable percussion and hysterical guitar riffs. The melody lines soon begin to build up, layer upon layer, to reveal an insanely catchy slice of punk infused pop. ‘Invincible’ features thrashing treble heavy guitar, precision bass, unearthly keyboard lines and zealous vocals which weave together to produce a mix that is raw in its emotion yet displays a great deal of lucidity in the production. When the listener feels that they most likely have now become familiar with the way the album may be going in terms of resonance, ‘Less Everyday’ plays with the formula, and pushes the guitar back down in the mix to create a twisted concoction that is not so much contained by the formula of “punk” and is more experimental in nature. ‘You Can Do It’ builds upon the elements encountered so far, and introduces a danger which may not have been previously perceptible. There certainly is a DIY ethic to the mood created by ‘Fake Like You’, whose muffled guitar riffs are cut through with shards of searing loveliness. There is a confident bluster to these tunes which is hard to create artificially, but which appears to come naturally to The Duel. This becomes more and more apparent on tracks such as ‘Love Me Do’ as Tara Rez begins to take on an edge to her voice which is at once confrontational, yet adolescent and brittle.
The guitars become unrefined and scathing on ‘Splash On You’ which features the potent Max Splodge of Splodgenessabounds sharing vocal duties. The pace and the sentiment are relaxed on the closing ‘When the Fire Goes Out’, which, whilst remaining characteristic to the rest of “Soundtrack to the End of the World”, soothes and coaxes the listener through to the conclusion. It seems the band have been seen gracing the stage at Skunk Anansie and Primal Scream after show parties, and will be spending the rest of 2012 touring to UK to promote this release. On the strength of the material on display here, and the illustrious company they keep, The Duel are compiling an outstanding portfolio.