Thursday, 12 August 2021

Exit Light: 30 Years of The Black Album

A Preface: Enter Sandman


"We're off to never-never land?
Well you can all fuck off and stay there..."

These were my first words upon listening to Metallica's Enter Sandman. It was a warm if cloudy evening, Friday the 19th of July 1991, and myself and a fellow Musical Adventurer had taken a boom-box and a couple of bottles of MadDog 20/20 up to the disused railway line about half a mile from my house*1. There, we would enjoy the precious combination of space and privacy to listen loudly to the Tommy Vance Rock Show on Radio 1, where he would be debuting the eagerly anticipated new single from LA's finest.

And as you have already no doubt surmised, I was not impressed.
Allow me to explain.

My own odyssey through heavy metal music had begun in the summer of 1986, whereby I had steadily climbed up some perceived ladder*2 of True Metal™ as the music I listened to became faster, angrier and more discordant. I'd gotten into Metallica in early 1989, shortly after the band had played nearby Newcastle (which is to say: I missed that gig completely- well done me?), and had consumed, digested and largely loved the band's back-catalogue. From the energetic if rough-around-the-edges Kill 'Em All (1983), to the musically confident Ride The Lightning (1984), through the lyrically confident Master Of Puppets (1986) and to the clinically brutal ...And Justice For All (1988), Metallica were a band on a clear trajectory, refining both their sound and their ethos with each album while never putting that older material in the shade.

While it had been something of a crash-course, Metallica had shaped my own taste and appreciation in music over the previous two years, and I was now ready to enjoy a new product of theirs for the first time - at the same time as my fellow fans. I was ready to open my impressionable ears to their next-level of intricately executed, focused rage.

And then Tommy Vance played a melodic pop record invoking Peter Pan.
I think we've covered my response.

It wasn't disappointment per se, it was a lack of understanding at what Metallica had done (indeed that wouldn't come until much later, see below). It was not knowing why the band would seemingly backtrack to a musical style they'd never even adopted in the first place. I didn't dislike melody, but that's what I had Europe records for. If I wanted worlds of arch fantasy, I'd be listening to Helloween, who at least managed to sound like thrash-metal while they did it. Enter Sandman wasn't thrash metal.

So naturally I bought the single on its first day just over a week later. 7", 12" and cassette*3. I am nothing if not slavishly devoted to a brand until finally reaching the abrupt point where I want nothing more to do with it (more on that later juncture in a much earlier post, here). And I listened to it, and I listened to it again, and people I knew (and trusted) told me they liked it, and I learned to play the guitar riffs, and before you know it Enter Sandman had become a song my brain believed it had always loved.

Something in Metallica had changed, and so had the way I approached new music.
Neither of these were necessarily a bad thing.

This picture isn't day one, mind. It is literally thirty years after day one.


Fast-forward to Monday 12th August 1991 and I was on holiday with my parents in Margate, Kent. I may have been initially unenthusiastic about its lead-single, but I wasn't going to let being out of my home town stop me from listening to the new Metallica album the day it was released. So obviously at 9am I was at Woolworths on the high street already starting to heat up in the sun, eager to be first in line (in my brain, there was definitely going to be a round-the-block queue for something as momentous as this) and hear for myself how the rest of the tracks fared by comparison. And not just by comparison with Enter Sandman, but against the band's existing canon. All of which I had brought with me on holiday as a matter of course. Naturally.

The moment came, the doors opened. Vinyl is obviously great, but I went for cassette out of practicality (and because I had the previous four albums bought on tape). I wanted to listen to the thing not just today, but there and then on my Personal Stereo Cassette Player (I wasn't cool enough to have a Walkman).

That cover. Was that it? I mean cool but... gone were the iconic paintings of previous releases, and no chance of giving Pushead centre-stage just yet but... what was this, a Spinal Tap reference? I mean, okay. Making t-shirts out of this was going to be interesting. Still, not to worry. And the title. More to the point, what title? Did this album even have one? Surely a self-monikered LP was something a band put out for a debut effort when they were unconfident about their ideas, not for their fifth? But no time for such superficial griping, there was music to gorge. Cash was handed over (there was no queue after all), and the deal was done. I had bought the very first copy of Metallica's Black Album sold in Woolworths Margate (my future best-friend was at that moment up the same street buying it in Our Price, but I was never that cool, as is now painfully apparent).


Leaving the shop I walked down the hill to the harbour, pressing Play and easing myself in through the now-familiar tones of Enter Sandman. I may have sat a while to take in the first few tracks, or I maybe stopped elsewhere back up toward my Cliftonville hotel. I don't remember, but I did manage to make a twenty minute stroll last the full hour, getting in an entire play en route. And it was... okay, it was different. I didn't dislike it, but this was not what I was expecting (well, prior to Enter Sandman at any rate).

This was still absolutely, undeniably, uniquely Metallica. No other band could have put out this album, but this was also like no other album they'd done. While Enter Sandman had at first been jarringly melodic, it served as a pretty good calling card for what was to come. This was still heavy but with a much rounder sound, notes you could envision the fret-positions for, the very antithesis of the scratchy, percussive Justice rather than being its successor. And while I'll never complain about actually being able to hear what bassist Jason Newsted is playing, this was almost 'groovy' in places. What did this say about the band? Was it a new direction, or just some additional one?

On my way into the hotel I bumped into one of the bar staff who happened to have the day off. We'd chatted briefly during my stay as he was into similarly loud music. I recommended the album to him, with reservations. He was impressed that I'd got it already and given it a full whirl. He had stuff to do, but we should definitely catch up over this later. He went into town, I went to my hotel room and played the Black Album again, this time on the lookout for memorable lyrics, flourishes, notable riffs to learn, and to form an intermediary ranking of the tracks...

Back to Black, track by track. Which is why this picture is a sort of warm-grey.


Enter Sandman is now effectively Metallica's signature song of course (as it instantly was then, replacing One), the equivalent of Nirvana's Teen Spirit. And it's a strong start to the album, making absolute commercial sense to have it as the first song. But the tight, eight-track formula of Lightning and Puppets hadn't returned. While Sandman adheres to form by opening with a clean guitar sound leading into something much heavier, the classic album lineup of 'the ballad' as a halfway marker and an eight minute instrumental on side two had similarly been jettisoned. All bets were off.

Generally this is a mid-paced album with well-positioned slowdowns for insta-classics The Unforgiven and Nothing Else Matters (the latter seemingly an actual ballad). Both are great but guaranteed to kill the mood at a party. But the absolute best tracks on offer here are Sad But True, Through The Never and Of Wolf And Man (even if that last one apparently has lyrics written by a fifteen year old). All three are absolute moshpit belters, don't @ me.

The rest of the long-player is on slightly less-firm ground, it has to be said. The God That Failed and My Friend Of Misery both deliver emotionally, albeit at a rate which feels designed for pulling mean faces in the mirror rather than enjoying in company. Holier Than Thou and The Struggle Within are decent, mosh-speed filler, and Don't Tread On Me serves as a reminder that however cool you think the band are, they're probably going to be hard to get on with at a party. All that remains is Wherever I May Roam, a tedious biker faux-anthem of a mid-life crisis adopted by those who, ironically, enjoy singing along boisterously in company. How about you roam out to the car park and do that, Brian? It's the male, middle-aged divorcee equivalent of I Will Survive, a song which is sleeping in its own car. I'm genuinely amazed there isn't a line in the second verse about 'and she won't let me see the kids'. Dreadful. Don't @ me.

But despite my griping (hey, I never said it was perfect), the whole thing just works. Metallica didn't make this to keep me happy (clearly), instead they made A Good Album.

Because fair play to them, this was the release which made Metallica. The Black Album took them from being an international success to a truly global one. It wasn't a thrash record, well certainly not completely. Hell, in some places it was barely even metal, this was a rock album*4. The newfound melodic nature of the songwriting and accessibility in the production meant that it could be enjoyed by mainstream rockers as dipping their toes into something a bit harder, while longtime fans could still enjoy it as something a bit more relaxed than the band's previous outings. Despite its seemingly endless genres and sub-categories, metal fandom has always been famously easy-going in getting along with each other. 'You might not be into the same bands as me, but we're all wearing black and we're drinking in the same pub: ergo, we're family'. But the Black Album took things even further. This was the unifier, creating even more common ground in the community. Metallica somehow became the massively popular band it was still cool to like.

And it turned out that the minimalist cover for Sandman then the album itself were part of a longer-term visual branding exercise, both more simplistic yet sophisticated than the band's look up to that point. This was evidenced as a further four singles followed (in multiple formats as above, which I bought as above, yes even the dreadful one), with attendant radio-play and promo videos that would be shown on mainstream music television as the songs climbed the charts due to their ascendant acceptance. More incredibly, the territorial core fanbase didn't seem to mind this new 'normal' popularity.

But all this was still to come, of course. I was laying in a hotel room in the summer of 1991, my brain still reeling from the relief of an album that wasn't as initially challenging as its 7" forebear, and the certain knowledge - even at that point - that this was going to be An Important Record™.


Just over an hour later I was changed and hanging around in the small arcade by the reception area (Taito's Superman, as memory serves). My new barman-buddy was back, changed and ready to enjoy his day off on the customer-side of some licensed establishments in the town. I was invited along. Well, it'd be rude not to (look, I'm hanging out with the staff at this point - I fucking told you I was cool). After over twelve hours of drinking, hot dogs, drinking, Laser-Quest, drinking and ending up in a Ramsgate nightclub with teeth-marks in my forearm*5, this was the first day of pleasant excess subliminally soundtracked by an already iconic album. It was not the last (although I wouldn't set foot in that nightclub again until 2019).

A few weeks later I started college. A new beginning of sorts, a chance to be more the person I wanted to be around people who hadn't already known me as a dweeb for half a decade. New friends, rock-friends, metal-friends. And everyone enjoyed the Black Album. It became a large part of the unofficial soundtrack to the next two years - thanks in no small part to the teasing out of the aforementioned singles and the tour which followed shortly thereafter (because when you miss out on Newcastle City Hall, the next stop is Whitley Bay Ice Rink. Fair enough).

When college was over I ended up moving to Margate permanently, by which time I'd made a group of friends from my holidaying there. Everyone still loved the Black Album. By now it was just widely acknowledged as a classic. Even by the time I'd got sick of Metallica milking the disc's financial worth*6 and sacked them off completely when I heard Load, I couldn't - and wouldn't - forget the great times I'd had, and that I'd continue to have with those songs playing somewhere in the background. Eight years later, when the release was a decade old, I moved to Oxford. Many things changed in those ten years, and Metallica's fifth album was the soundtrack to a lot of them.

It's still relevant. It still sounds fucking great. I still play it to this day.
Although I have a compact disc now, as well.
Told you I was cool.

Happy 30th, Black Album. You're not Metallica's best LP and you're not my favourite. But you've aged better than some 29yr olds I know...*7

Metallica: None More Worn

*1 It was actually an old coal/freight railway line which had since been converted into a very nice footpath and cycleway, but "disused" sounds a bit more exciting, doesn't it? The long line passed under several roads resulting in a collection of overhead bridges and tunnels which made for a cool place to hang out when you're old enough to be able to buy booze in off licenses but not quite old enough to pull off the same thing in pubs. So obviously we had to take our own music. And obviously I now recognise myself as the absolute worst kind of teenager. But there we have it. [ BACK ]

*2 Everyone's ladder is different of course, but mine went: Bon Jovi > Motley Crue > Iron Maiden > Metallica > Slayer > Death > Cannibal Corpse > Cradle Of Filth > Mayhem. There were other bands along the way of course (as well as offshoots into goth and indie, basically anything with pouting and guitars), but those were the 'rungs' of ascending chaos. [ BACK ]

*3 Because while I wasn't doing CDs at that point, we all know that I am - perhaps above all - A Collector. And Metallica seemed to know this as well, but more on that further down. [ BACK ]

*4 In fact, it was a Bob Rock album. And I hope you enjoyed that joke because I didn't, but I still felt I had to make it at least once in here. I'm not going to apologise, though. I've done worse for less. [ BACK ]

*5 Really, don't ask. I'm not even sure myself. All that needs to be said is: all the wrong sort of people go to Ramsgate nightclubs on a Monday, amazingly. [ BACK ]

*6 Because there are only so many live b-sides I can give a shit about. 'Oh Enter Sandman live-yet-sounding-exactly-the-same-again?' Record some new cover versions, you lazy bastards. [ BACK ]

*7 Listen, thanks for wading through this rambling mammoth of a post and all these footnotes, you know I appreciate it. Been a while, hasn't it? Weird times, but I'm sure I don't have to tell you that. Film reviews may return at some point (never say never), but I'm not sure I've got the energy right now. Anyway, thank you. [ BACK ]

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
• Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.
• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

Thursday, 1 July 2021

Alternate Histories #3: St. Ives

whatGreetings! from St. Ives.isit

Many of us know and love St Ives as the quaint yet vibrant coastal town in Cornwall, as popular with artists as it is with surfers, an air of excitement as charged defibrillators hum at the top of every hill, and bustling with breathless holidaymakers and curmudgeonly restauranteurs. But it wasn't always like this.

Let's take a look at how this British seaside favourite came into being...

It's not milk, so what is it? Absolutely nobody knows. Founded on industrial wasteground following the First World War, this regenerative settlement was an early prototype of the UK's "new town" projects (later to find great success once they moved inland and utilised windowless concrete). As part of the carefully managed brand-identity, chugging trawlers crewed by out of work actors from nearby Penzance would leave the picturesque harbour before first light every morning, returning after 14-hour shifts of harvesting a light tan-coloured silt from the Atlantic Ocean. This was hauled by local orphans to kiln-houses in the narrow streets where it was dried, filtered, and became the base ingredient of a hugely popular powdered milk-substitute, produced and sold by the startup company which gave the town its now-legendary moniker: St Ivel...

Charles Bronson, not to be confused with the new Charles Bronson. Its name - and fame - spread far and wide, and this was an arrangement which worked well for many years until 1975. American actor Charles Bronson made a lucrative offer to assume sponsorship of the locale in promotion for his upcoming action film series, 'St Ives'. The town council understandably leapt at this opportunity, having not read the contract properly and assuming (perhaps not unfairly) that the slick yet gritty heist-thrillers would be filmed on their own Cornish cobbles, garnering great publicity for the community and sightseeing opportunities for visitors.

Alas, this wasn't to be. The film, released in 1976, performed modestly on its own terms but its dour cinematic demeanour attracted no further investment for the planned sequels, while audiences in old Kernow were left baffled by the stateside setting. Bronson withdrew from the town in a fit of pique and moved his production company to the South Devon coast (in the now-former fishing village of Death Wish 4). As well as maps and tourist guides having recently being reprinted at great expense with the town's new name, contractual stipulation also meant it could not be reverted for another 99 years. To add to their woes, the St Ivel company had since been bought by the Coffee Mate corporation, then placed into liquidation when they concluded that the sea-silt tasted disgusting after all.

Because you can't scrub away how much ruddy FUN it is to be in St Ives!!! And so the hamlet limped on with no meaningful name or commercial direction until 1982, when a cosmetics magnate happened to be visiting the area as part of a stag party. He noticed that dragging their nuptially-bound charge across the beach by a whipped donkey led to the lad's skin displaying a ruddy glow, rather than the raw, salt-infused welts his group had initially intended.

Within twelve months, Mr Unilever Saint Ives had established a new spin-off company to reinvigorate the town's fortunes, whereby sand was dredged daily from the sea bed and hauled into town by local orphans where it was mixed with the slurry by-products of the local fudge mills to create a revolutionary and award-winning facial scrub. The town could rejoice once more, their name - not to mention their reputation and complexion - was intact.

And to this very day, as tourists huddle over a pint outside The Sloop Inn in the crook of the harbour and are routinely sandblasted in even the calmest of conditions, they can raise a glass to the saint who saved the town. In fact, he's probably looking down from his reinforced office in the Tregenna Castle Estate watching them!

And so say all of us: Thanks, Saint Ives!

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
• Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.
• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

Monday, 31 May 2021

Bountyhunting: Hard Money For The Professionals.

WARNING: This is a mash-up. It's Star Wars
fan-fiction, written in the style of Irvine Welsh's Trainspotting. I absolutely adore both so it comes from a place of genuine love, but be aware that the second of these influences means that the post contains some of the foulest language ever to appear on this blog. If the swearing will be a problem for you, there are lots of far less profane posts right here. For everyone else, strap in...

Photo credit: Electronic Arts.

They centre ay Eisley is really mobbed oot, man. It's too hot fir a green-skinned punter likesay, ken? Some Lothcats thrive in the heat, but the likesay me, ken, we jist cannae handle it. Ah've gottae try tae rehydrate sharpish. The proablem is ah've goat a bit ay a tab situation at maist ay the places here, likes.

Ah pass likes this awnin back fae the street an there's this old gadge slumped in there lookin at aes. He's a right mess and he stinks ay pish and fuck knows what else, bit he's lookin like he kens aes.

— Huv ye goat twenny spare credits son? he asks.
— Ah hannay, man, sorry old timer, ah sais. He disnae react, he jist keeps starin wi a faint smile. An ah feel pure shite cause ah've goat mair than he needs awright, bit no mair than ah need, ken?
— No tae worry son, he grumbles. — Yoo tek it easay, ye're a guid lad Rodes! An that pure rattles aes man, cause aa reputation isnae aw that roond these pairts an it means he dis ken aes.

Ah jist sortay gies im a wave an mooches aff. It wis only twa streets later that ah realised that wis auld Cradossk. Fuck man, ah've done a couple ay jobs wi him back when ah wis stertin oot. Noo ah wannay go back and chat tae the cat likes, bit ah'd be too embarrassed.

Ah spoat some ay ma pack headin intae Chalmun's cantina and figure ah can try ma luck there. As long as the old Wook hissel isnae oan the bar ah should be okay. He's a sound old dude, bit he kens ah'm back oan the spice an he disnae pit up wi that. Ah eywis reckoned he wis overreactin, then the gang telt is maist ay his family goat taken tae that Kessel an died doon the spice mines, man. Ah mean nae wonder he disnae dig it, that's some heavy shite awright. It's okay though, Wuher's oan the bar the day, an he disnae care aboot anythin other than makin sure each punter's spendin money, likesay.

Dengs is hengin oot oan is ain near the bar. A heads over tae um an we hae a chat fir a couple ay minutes aboot shite, likes. Ye ken he's a deeper cat than meets the eye, man, bit he hides it aw behind thae bandages and armour platin. Ah'm sure he shouldnae be in this game, tae much ay a soul tae him fir the killin, bit he keeps oan.

Then Fett comes saunterin in.

— Alright girls? he croons, even though he's talkin tae us.
— Aye, Boab, ah nod. He stops, turns roond and looks us square oan.
— Whit wis that? he whispers.
— Ah sais aye, ah croaks. He's caught aes oaff guard there likes, an ah'm backin' doon noo jist fir bein pleasant, likesay.
— Boab? he goes. I can feel him squintin through the visor, like he's hae'n a shite day and blamin me fir makin it worse.
— BobA, I comes back, hopin ah can play it aff like he jist didnae hear me proper. — Y'awright ma man? If he's no fooled maybe some ay the guys will be. Although ah doubt it.

He jist walks ower tae the table an'the others. Ah could dae withoot this today, man. As he goes closer, Bossk stands up and bellows tae the room.
— Boab!! Get ower here ye shiny heeded cunt, ye! Fett disnae say anythin likes, jist sits doon wi them.

The Bossko's fuckin a psycho, man, pure bad vibes. He's aw — First rule ay the game, ye look efter yir mates! Aye right enough, but what he willnae tell ye is that it disnae apply to him because he hasnae goat any mates. Spent twa years steppin ower every poor bastard tae get intae the guild, then once he's in he acts like he's better than aw ay it. He left IG-88 in fuckin bits oan the flair jist fir gettin in his way that once. He's costin us joabs as a crew, ken?

Bit ah've been over tae Jabba's this mornin, seein if he needs any "ends tyin up" likesay. He eyewis pays well, bit yuv goat tae be careful cause Hutts count in base eight. That means that fir every thoosand credits they say thae'll pay, ye'll actually get eight hunner. Seems like thur bein sneaky cats bit it's likesay a cultural thing, so ye cannae really complain. Besides, if ye work it oot in advance there's nae problem, it's jist complicated likes.

An then like cool, cool karma itself man, ah sees that Nexu cat Solo stretchin oot against thae back wall. Fuckin result. He wis guid pals wi Jabba until jist recently when he lost a load ay the gear he wis carryin. Sais he dumped it cause he wis bein tracked by the Impdicks bit Jabba thinks he might ay jist sold it oan fir hissel. The Hutt disnae even care if the boontay's alive or no. That makes things a shite sight easier awright. His co-pilot's a big bastard, bit ah'm sure ah can shoot faster than either ay them.

Aw the other cats in ma pack huv slinked oaf so its jist me an Solo and a short walk through this bar tae payday. An even if Jabba starts negotiatin doon once ah bring him in, ah can stash everythin Solo's holdin before ah take him there. Fae the way he's lookin ah'd say he's jist finishin up some business. Even better man, he'll have a few advance credits ready tae slide oot ay his poacket as ah'm carryin him oot.

This is it, man. Thae wan. All in, ma ticket tae better times. Goin clean. Retirement oan a quiet moon wi a Naboo princess or a Twi'lek girl, complete wi the head-dress, ken? Aye, goatay be complete wi the head-dress...

Right. Solo's oan his ain. Pit them drinks oan ice, Greedo's goin in...

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
• Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.
• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

Friday, 30 April 2021

Bountyhunting: Kicking Off In Public.

WARNING: This is a mash-up. It's Star Wars
fan-fiction, written in the style of Irvine Welsh's Trainspotting. I absolutely adore both so it comes from a place of genuine love, but be aware that the second of these influences means that the post contains some of the foulest language ever to appear on this blog. This one especially. If the swearing will be a problem for you, there are lots of far less profane posts right here. For everyone else, strap in...

Photo credit: ArtFX+

If this disnae stoap bleedin ah'm gonnae chib that cunt masel, mates or no fuckin mates.

Wir in Ackmena's over Espa. Me an Boab. Keepin wir eye oan this radge whae's owin Jabba. Screel or somethin. Speccy shite, no much tae look at but his auld man's an Imp and the smart cunt is flashin his poppy aw over. He's no overdue yit so it's jist surveillance likes, low key. No really ma speciality, bit if any cunt wants tae pay us tae sit oan ma erse fir a bit ah'm gemme. Ah'm at a table wi the gobshite, Boab's at the back ay the alcove by the door, armed tae the fuckin teeth as per. A guid cunt tae huv wi ye.

So the cairds are oan. Sabaac. Wir four hands in - ah'm playin like Lando fuckin Calrissian by the way - an ah'm keepin mah heed doon and tannin the Alderaanian brandy an aw. Screel is gien us evils bit he kin git tae fuck. Ah didnae come here lookin fir bother, bit ah'm the wan wi the Relby V10 under the table and that cunt kin huv the barrel-end in his pus any time he fuckin wanted like.

Then whae comes mincing in bit Rodes. Fuck’s sake, ah kin dae withoot him nippin ma heid. The cunt’s niver oot ay Eisley so ah thought it wid be quiet here, bit if there’s wan cunt whae’s gonnae knock this sideways, it’ll be Rodes. If Screel gets wind ay boonty hunters, it’s aw over. That dappit shite clocks us right aff and strolls over.

— Awright Bossko! Any joabs goin? Every cunt’s lookin now an ah’m oan ma feet before he kin get tae us.

— Keep it doon fir fuck’s sake, wir oan a joab noo! ah hiss at him. Bit it’s nae guid, he’s aff his fuckin box the cunt, and he gies us they big eyes and drawls: — Aw, okay ma man! We’re aw lizards here, right pal?

— Ah’m a fuckin lizard, you’re a worm that’s grown legs, noo sit the fuck doon or get a roond in eh?

— Oan it, Cat-man Bossk! The cunt dis this salute which is probably meant tae be funny, but he’s said ma fuckin name twice already an that’s it. Screel‘s getting oot ay his fuckin chair and swaggerin over tae us. Fuck.

— Bossk? he sais, bit wi his mid-rim accent it comes oot soondin like “Baahsk”. — Yoou’re Baahsk? The boun’y hunter, ri-i-ght? An he sais it aw grinnin like a fuckin erse.

Right then cunt, let’s git ready. At least he didnae bolt fir the door, bit ah kin see Boab shiftin as he tenses up. Ackmena’s at the bar, glaring over fir us tae pack it in. Too late now, darlin.

— Say I’ve heard aboutchoo! the boy slavers. Dae it, ah fuckin dare ye! He turns away an there it is: the left hand goes up tae his face as a distraction while the right pulls oot a vibroblade. Goat ye ya cunt, that’s enough ay a cause fir me.

It’s probably no Screel’s fault he disnae ken how fast a Trando kin move, bit even he looks surprised when ah’m oan the cunt and lampin his face as he goes doon. Ah’ve smashed his skull intae the floor a couple ay times and grabbed the hand wi the blade, the wee shite yelpin like a dug as the bones tear oot through the skin. His other hand is flailin an fir aw ah ken he’s goat a blaster, so ah’ve goat nae choice bit tae keep panellin the cunt. Ah kin see his mates comin over, but.

Screel’s done fir noo, so ah stand and front up tae his minders. Two Noghri and a Barabel. Ah’ll take the big cunt first, same rules apply. He comes over wi his palms oot like he’s tryin tae be pally, like there’s some reptilian code ay honour. Dis he think ah’m fuckin saft?

So ah’m oan that cunt right an aw. A headbutt in the pus tae soften um up, then a boot in the baws tae send’um doon. Wan ay the Noghri sees this an shites it, oaf fir the exit. Boab jist lets him go. Ah’ve crushed the Barabel’s windpipe an ah’m jist roundin oan that other Noghri cunt when ah hear the laddie makin a noise, tryin tae get up as ah slam ma fist intae the side ay his heid and he sinks like a sack ay shite again.

— Bit ay help wid be guid, likes! ah yell, bit Boab’s jist standin there. An ye ken Boab, that cunt’s no shy in a swedge. Then ah’ve goat his comm through oan ma implant, sneerin as fuckin usual.

— Y’do realise that if ye kill Screed, Jabba’ll be efter you fir the poppy he’s owed? Aye, right enough ah suppose. Still, it’s easy tae be a clever cunt when yir standin in the corner wi a bucket oan yir heid.

Then, that Noghri’s goat his fuckin blade between ma ribs - right in there the cunt - bit instead ay finishin the joab he’s jist standin there fuckin shakin, a pool ay pish floodin oot fae under his boots. Then Boab’s right ahind um, pullin away his stun baton.

— Oh, nice ay ye tae fuckin join us! ah tell’im. The Noghri’s oan the floor and ah boot the fucker in the heid as ah bleed ontae’im.

— Are you plannin oan takin this shite back, or d’ye want tae keep advertisin oor presence here? Boab sais. He’s no wrang.

Ah shoulder ma Relby, pick up Screel and drag him ootside, ma other hand oan ma bleedin ribcage. Ah’m lookin tae see where that green shite has goat tae, he’s the cunt whae started this.

Rodes is in the alcove, passed oot oan the fuckin spice. Well it’s time Screech paid his fuckin debts, ah’ll be back fir this cunt later. A big fuckin disappointment tae me that boy, ah kin tell ye…

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
• Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.
• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.