Music Review: Ferocious Dog – Kleptocracy

Written by: Luke Dunmore


Album Title:

Release Date:

Ferocious Dog



In a genre that can be prone to dubious or forced authenticity, these Folk Punk veterans’ blending of the genres is pleasantly genuine and natural. Perhaps that’s unsurprising given that Ferocious Dog’s beginnings were about twenty-five years before the release of their debut album in 2013, they’ve had ample time to hone and tweak their craft.

Other than, their frontman, Ken Bonsall, a fair few band members have come and gone over the years. However, following the departure of pretty much the entire line-up, including co-founder and manager, Dan Booth, over the last couple of years, the band has had to undergo something of a soft reboot with Kleptocracy.

So is this incarnation of the band a pale imitation of what had gone before or infused with renewed energy, ready to take on the world?

It’s at this point I have to hold my hand up and say that, until I was given this album to review, I knew of the band and what they played but wasn’t particularly familiar with their stuff.

My initial reaction was to immediately do homework but, given the line-up thing, I thought it might be better to hold off and judge Kleptocracy purely on its own merits rather than be all “Eh, this is alright but it’s no Slow Motion Suicide” or whatever. I just hope this doesn’t turn out to be their St. Anger.

Back to my question then. Well, they probably aren’t too impartial but the band certainly seem to be in the opinion of the latter, stating that this album is punchier than previous releases and more in line with their live sound. Obviously I can’t confirm that but I can confirm that the majority of Kleptocracy is definitely punchy. The first half of the album goes full tilt with only brief moments of respite. Energetic and breakneck, with band almost stumbling over themselves in their eagerness to get to the next song. Jamie Burney’s fiddle is usually at the forefront, carrying the main melody with the guitars being, if I can paraphrase Sultans Of Swing for a moment, strictly rhythm. Ken spits out his tales of socio-political commentary with vigour but, given some of the… interesting political decisions of the Government over the last few years, this is hardly surprising.

It’s therein that lies the odd juxtaposition of this band and album, musically, it’s joyous and fun. There’s anthemic, singalong choruses and big, bouncy tunes that are so suited to enthusiastic flailing in a field that you can almost smell the sweat and patchouli. Lyrically however, it’s a very dark and angry album. Take the title track for example. It’s about the current UK Government’s detachment and cluelessness about the hardships of working class life, delightedly increasing their already quite substantial wealth at the cost of the poor. The brilliant Merthyr Rising details the riots in the Welsh town of Merthyr Tydfil in 1831 over working class poverty and Blood-Soaked Shores is very much anti-war. All three songs are as foot tapping and head-wobbly as anything you’re gonna hear this year. Bit miserable though.

As good as they are, the first five songs of the album are all quite similar and there’s danger of things getting a little too samey. Thankfully, this is where A Place We Call Home crops up. A touching tale of homelessness, it’s a gentle song with some great guest vocals from Lizzey Joy Ross that add a really nice dimension to the song, particularly on the fantastic closing section.


There’s anthemic, singalong choruses and big, bouncy tunes that are so suited to enthusiastic flailing in a field that you can almost smell the sweat and patchouli. Lyrically however, it’s a very dark and angry album.


A Place We Call Home breaks the seal as there’s a couple more departures from that core sound in the second half: Darker Side Of Town is powered along by a hefty riff that’s equal parts rockabilly and hard rock; Running With The Hounds is an acoustic strum that starts off sedate but builds toward a frenetic conclusion. The titular hounds are in fact Hell Hounds and it’s a song about atoning for your sins or facing a reckoning.

The closing track of Kleptocracy is perhaps the biggest departure of all. Anger On The Streets is less than a minute and a half long and a furious burst of hardcore fury. Hardcore fury tempered somewhat by a banjo. It’s a good song but, because it is so different to everything else, it feels a little bit tacked onto the end and might have been better off further up the running order.

The deluxe edition adds a further four songs that are as good as any of the album tracks proper. Brixton’s Burning and Tell God And The Devil are both standard FD fare, with the latter the pacier and actually one of the album highlights. The other two tracks are alternate versions of the same song. The Protest Singer is slower and acoustic and, uh,a protest song with the great chorus line of “It’s dangerous to be right when your Government is wrong”. Protest Singer Blues whips out the harmonica and treats us to a full on hoedown with a tune that’s shamelessly nicked from Folsom Prison Blues. Both are great though The Protest Singer feels like the canon version.

I really enjoyed this album and I’m a little annoyed at myself for not bothering with the band sooner, particularly as one of my musical heroes, (Les ‘Fruitbat’ Carter from Carter USM and Abdoujaparov) was in them for a while. Right, you go listen to this and I’ll go listen to their old stuff then we’ll compare notes.

ERB RATING: 7/10 (standard version) 8/10 (deluxe version)


Check out Ferocious Dog on their website and social pages:







Album artwork for Ferocious Dog's album Kleptocracy

Band Members

Ken Bonsall – Vocals, Acoustic Guitar
Jamie Burney – Violin
Kyle Peters – Electric Guitar
Nick Wragg – Bass
Luke Grainger – Percussion
Sam Wood – Multiinstrumentalist

Track Listing

  1. Witch Hunt
  2. Sus Laws
  3. Kleptocracy
  4. Iron Mike Malloy
  5. Merthyr Rising
  6. A Place We Call Home
  7. Blood Soaked Shores
  8. Darker Side Of Town
  9. Matty Groves (originally by Fairport Convention)
  10. Running With The Hounds
  11. Moby Dick
  12. Anger On The Streets
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