The System Works… LP
Somewhere after the release of Rock Against Bush Vol. 2 and American Idiot on Broadway getting nominated for a Tony Award, punk seemed to completely deflate as a political entity. Even as punks expanded their personal politics, outward messages of defiance towards the government and society were often totally dropped in favor of heavy metal-style “cvlt” imagery (just replace Satan and demons with a crude line drawing of a spider crawling out of a skull’s eye socket wrapped in barber wire), and the dressings of hardcore style lost much of the meaning that often gave it much of it’s bite, importance, and impact. Of course, this news never reached these old diehards in Van Nuys. TOTAL MASSACRE’s second album is good ’n’ punchy, tried-and-true old school hardcore punk (a la DEHUMANIZERS or DETONATORS) with gnarled vocals like the more raw ARTISTIC DECLINE tracks, or a less extreme CAPITOL PUNISHMENT, spitting diatribes ripped out of the headlines. Fuck their border wall! If you see a fucking Nazi, you’re gonna knock his fucking block off! Fuck Trump! I’m gonna make damn sure my liver fails before our institutions do!! (a funny line, but one that shows how fucking bizarro world 2019 actually is). The band makes good use of their indignation, but I do at times feel these laundry lists of outrage would benefit from just a bit more over the top irony and the kinds of acidic dark humor that made some of the original 1980s political hardcore bands such fun jaunts. The music bolts straight ahead, with melodic underpinnings anchored by a steady upfront drumbeat, captured in a solid recording, with catchy enough songs to hoist the lyrical musings and maybe inspire a few fist pumps in tandem with the beat. Maybe the lyrics are not ones that will change the world, but punk’s power was always music as meeting point for people who felt the same way, and it’s why the political and personal lyrics are still important, because yeah I feel that way too. I’m an anti-fascist and we’re all anti-fascists too! TOTAL MASSACRE maybe wallow lyrically in the challenges and disappointments that come with age a few too many times here, yeah…maybe we feel all that way too sometimes, but one of punk’s strength is also the empowerment it can bring to both the performer and the listener. This comes in a gatefold sleeve with full lyrics.