The Templars: Horns of Hattin

**Gettin’ Medieval On Your Ass**

The Poor Knights of Acre have returned with a vengeance. With their latest GMM release, “The Horns of Hattin”, the Templars once again prove why they are indeed America’s premiere Oi! band and perhaps the best American Oi! band ever. While some fans growled about their previous release on GMM saying it was too polished and lacked that familiar rough Templars sound (I dug it anyway) the latest opus should please them all – and then some.

Even though S’n’O is primarily focused on Celtic sounds, put aside any notions of those sounds popping up here. If you haven’t heard them, there is nothing remotely Celtic about them. To me, they are a mix of the influences singer/guitarist Carl and the lads normally mention – old Skrewdriver, the Who, the Stones, and a host of the original European Oi! and punk bands. This amalgamation creates a sound that is entirely their own – they are instantly recognizable from the rest of the crop. As I said, not Celtic at all, but sometimes when listening to them, I get a feeling that they could’ve played at English medieval fairs, jousts and the like, if modern conveniences and equipment were available. Or hell, they may have been able to do it with mandolin, harp and drums, who knows. They just kind of sound ‘medieval’ in a strange way. NYC Skinheads in King Arthur’s Court?

The opening burner “Video Age” gets things rollin’, and from there, they never look back. The rock-n-roll influence is heavily felt on this release and mixes in seamlessly with the familiar Templars sound. A song like “Consequences” starts out with a folksy-rock feel and Slade-rock surfaces in “Breakdown.” Check out the guitar solos.

The musicianship on this release is the best I think I’ve ever heard from the boys. Carl’s guitar work especially. The aforementioned “Breakdown” sounds like Chuck Berry if he were a skin, and the quality level is maintained throughout. For my money, Perry is the best bassist in Oi! and Phil keeps the backbone strong and steady, and is an excellent drummer.

Having been around awhile, the lyrical content focuses on such issues as coming up as a skin, traitors in the scene, shit-talkers and skins and punks who, through their actions, ruin things for themselves. Perhaps a message from the Templars: pull our heads out of our asses, get along and enjoy the shows. Don’t spoil things for everyone and prevent future ones. “Lies” put things into perspective like this: “I don’t believe all the rumors and gossip/I’ve got no time for that kind of bullshit….Can’t judge a man by the shoes that he wears/Can’t judge a man by the length of his hair.” Time to put all that petty shit to rest. The disc ends with a ‘hidden’ track, a perfect cover of Skrewdriver’s “Back Street Kids.”

All in all, this is a release I would highly recommend to any fan of the band. If you have not checked them out, do yourself a favor and do so. The Oi! bar has once again been raised by the Templars. Anyone care to step up?

November 2001

By Sean Holland

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