All right, well since Blogger completely sucks, let’s try this review over here. Time after time their stupid web interface lost entire album reviews and notes, and I just couldn’t take it anymore. There is very little in this realm that is more frustrating than having to rewrite a CD review. Make it a hard CD on top of that and you’ve really made me angry.
I didn’t even mean to listen to this CD. First of all, the album in the “best of 2011” playlist was supposed to be Fucked Up’s David Comes To Life. But this one accidentally got in there since it has a song with that name. Then a song came up on shuffle (I don’t remember which) and I thought a friend might like it for a Christmas gift, so I decided to give the whole thing a closer listen. But uff-da, what a tough listen.
This is 13 tracks and 72.5 minutes of a nearly non-stop full-on hardcore assault on your ears. Wall of sound? Fuck that. This is a fucking four thundering horsemen of the apocalypse of sound. Guitars cranked to 11, a monster of a drummer who just does not stop, and a vocalist who manages to sound like two of the guy from Mighty Mighty Bosstones at his most pissed…pure shouty shout for the entire album.
I almost bailed. I generally don’t bail on an album once started without writing a review. Because the point of writing reviews, or one of the points, is to remember why I bailed so if and when I ever come back to it I’ve got a crib sheet. Or maybe I’d want to listen to this year’s release that’s on so many “best of” lists, and I’d want these notes to remind me what I thought of the band’s debut five years earlier. But man was I tempted to bail since I’m so fragile lately that all I want is soothing and/or hypnotic.
And it was kind of worth it. I mean, I like almost all of these songs. At first they would just pop up on shuffle when I was in the right mood and make me walk faster or jump around or grit my teeth or bang my head. And eventually I was able to sustain for a couple of hours. It’s still not something I’ll reach for often, but it’s definitely a strong disc for a hardcore punk album.
Highlights are “David Comes To Life,” which is short and sweet and tacks a grandiose beginning on to a Ramones-y punk song; “Baiting The Public,” which synopsizes the album’s most extreme energy down to about six minutes; and “Jacob’s Ladder,” which, as the penultimate song, puts the cherry on the top of the disc better than the closer, “Vivian Girls.”
The worst stretch is tracks 9 – 11, which is somewhat enjoyable but nearly skippable. If you wanted to cut the fat, that’s exactly where you’d go. Just at the point where you don’t think you can take any more of the brutality, they step it up and lose all subtlety, nuance, and dynamism for several minutes.
Lyrically this is anti-Christian or -organized religion or something. There’s the opener, “Crusades,” then all kinds of apocalyptic references throughout. “Vivian Girls” screams “Let Opus Dei reign,” and “Fate Of Fates,” in one of the most memorable lines on the disc, says:
They believe the path of the righteous/
Is paved with the lives of six million souls/
I believe that one day all the stars in the sky will explode/
And it will kill us all, young and old/
And we all wind up in the same place when we go
Whether this is in the first person or via a character on the album, I don’t know. There was a time I would have taken the time to absorb it all, but I think I’ve checked the boxes here. We’ll call that a long-term project. Someday when I’ve got nothing to do and Fucked Up is my favorite remaining band about whom I haven’t yet learned everything, I’ll get right on that. Until then, this album kicks you in the ass hard. In a good way…if you’re in the mood for it.
Oh, one final note here: this album reminds me a lot of Animal Chin’s first one. Which I also did not get for the longest time…it took many listens over a long period of time and eventually I was able to gradually get a song here and a song there.
Mix: “David Comes To Life,” “Baiting The Public”
Keep: “Invisible Leader, ” “Fate Of Fates,” “”Two Snakes,” “Hidden World,” “Jacob’s Ladder”
Like: “Crusades,” “Carried Out To The Sea,” “Blaze Of Glory,” “Triumph Of Life,” “Vivian Girls”
01 – Crusades – This takes a really long time to get going. There’s kind of a big epic intro going on.
02 – David Comes To Life – Odd that this would be the name of their album five years later. Not that odd, I guess, but kind of unusual. Short and punky in a Ramones-y sense. Oh yeah, this is awesome.
03 – Invisible Leader – Actually changes color for a short period in the middle of the song, going kind of noisy Sonic Youth.
04 – Carried Out To The Sea – The toughest listen up to this point. Just very straightforward thrashy with no subtlety or really melody. Then the last 35 seconds are quiet strings. Which I really like.
05 – Baiting The Public – I’m liking this on shuffle mixed in with some other stuff. This album is just an awful lot to take all at once. “You ruined life for us/We’ll ruin life for you.”
06 – Fate Of Fates – Starts off invitingly. Just a quiet riff. It’s nice. But before long it is full blast loud and angry and yelly. Great lyrics about stars exploding. Those lyrics may help push into keep territory.
07 – Two Snakes – I had this at at least keep, but wow, those verses are hard. So I guess it gets a keep then.
08 – Hidden World – I think they’re musically quoting something else that I can’t put my finger on. Something like “This Train Is Bound For Glory” which has been done by Woody Guthrie and Johnny Cash, among others I’m sure. Pretty sure this is not one of the better ones here. But I dug it on the way into work today.
09 – Manqueller Man – I don’t hate this, but it doesn’t quite rise to the level of like.
10 – Blaze Of Glory – Starts off with a female whispering, I actually thought it was Tori Amos for a while since I have this on the same Under Review playlist with American Doll Posse. Not super grabbing me, but driving me nuts, either. “Small-town huckters” lyric reminds me of, who, that New Jersey punk band everybody compares to Bruce Springsteen now? The Gaslight Anthem? Yeah.
11 – Triumph Of Life – Fast and furious. How do I have this as at least like? I guess I’ll cap it at keep now, too, but wow. There’s no way I keep this. So I like it? I don’t know, I’m switching it to at most like. Oh, it’s got some cool parts at about 2:30. So I’ll like it, okay.
12 – Jacob’s Ladder – So yelly. Starts off with that fast, ascending riff. “Nothing’s more pathetic/Than too much self-restraint” I really like the way it starts. It’s got that crunchy ascending riff, as mentioned above, and at the same time there’s a bit of a free, flangy guitar thing going on over the top of it. Even the yelling part seems maybe a little different than, say, “Fate Of Fates,” which kind of seems like the whole album. Yeah, this song is cool. This is one of the best tracks here.
13 – Vivian Girls – Over nine minutes. The first minute rocks pretty good, I’m kind of surprised I have it as ‘at most like’.