The 14th and 16th songs on “Kleptocracy” (if you have the deluxe edition with the bonus songs anyway) is called “The Protest Singer”. Either a hoedown or a full on folk song depending on which of the two versions you choose, it finds Ferocious Dog main man Ken Bonsall inviting you to “join me in this struggle, we’ll raise our voices high, for a world that’s fair and just, where the truth will never die.”

In doing so, he wraps up all the loose ends that the almost hour before it might have left behind.

That line, those words. They matter. They matter not just to understand FD in 2024, but to their whole career. That is what has driven Bonsall – now the only founder member left after Dan Booth’s departure, along with most of the rest of the band in 2022 – to do this since 1988.

On this one, he’s found more of it. And more folk to go with the punk, More anger to go with it all, more and more of everything.

They are a wonderful live band. One of the best, and it’s impossible to listen to “Witch Hunt” – the opener – without thinking of the stages they’ll play it on. But the way he spits “its evil in disguise” reminds you that nearly always there’s a message.

“Sus Laws” with its “More blacks, more dogs, more Irish, in this land of hope and glory they should be welcomed by us all” underlines that there’s more of the many than there are the few.

The title track, which let’s be honest about this, sounds like The Levellers, but better, “the Tories are afraid”. They should be. My god, and if it’s possible to enjoy Ferocious Dog without being Tory scum, then I’d question why you’d want to.

They are storytellers in the grand tradition. “Iron Mike Malloy” might see Shane McGowan smile wherever he is, “Merthyr Rising” is the type of thing that Seth Lakeman does (just a damn sight slower) and the Celtic influences which are ramped up here, find Sam Wood take centre stage, together with the lovely co-vocals for the beautiful ballad “The Place We Call Home”.

Mostly ,“Kleptocracy” is a case of the more things change, the more they stay the same. “Blood Soaked Shores” or the even better “Darker Side Of Town” are the type of stuff that if you don’t love, you never loved Ferocious Dog, and the sense of fun on “Matty Groves” is perfect. Whoever he is, I do hope it’s a true story, that’s all I’m saying. Oh, and by the way, Rancid Fans (of which Bonsall is one) will love it.

If ever there was a band that’s at one with its hardcore fans, then it’s this one. The Hellhounds are brought into the song too for “Running With The Hounds” – they’ll adore it. As they will “Moby Dick”. Expect to see The Longest Johns covering it.

The last song proper is the brilliant, rabble-rousing hardcore of “Anger On The Streets”, but it’s not finished, not by a long chalk.

“Brixton Riots” immortalises the first civil unrest I can recall growing up, categorising it as a “fight against despair” and the hoedowns just keep coming here. “Tell God And The Devil” has a real message. All of this does. And basically, it seems to me it is this: hope will win. It must. It has to. Not the fear of the rich. The hope of the people.

Ferocious Dog’s hometown of Warsop is seven and a half miles from Sutton In Ashfield, where they are represented by a racist and a party they didn’t vote for (as every time I mention Lee Anderson I do so with the invitation that he can sue me if I am wrong). He believes he speaks “for the people”. With “common sense”. Yet he’s a career opportunist who started as a Labour Councillor and cares for nothing but himself and his vile ideology.

Contrast that with Ken Bonsall and Ferocious Dog, who have stood up for what they believed in since 1988.

Just vote for “Kleptocracy”. Whatever else they think they can steal, they can never take our dreams and aspirations.

If you choose hope not hate, buy this record.

Rating 9.5/10

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