5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Another great release by Propagandhi,
This review is from: Failed States (Audio CD)
Propagandhi's second period remains firing on all cylinders. The transition album was Today's Empire, Tomorrow's Ashes - an album that brought with it a stronger metal influence, a more intelligent politicised style (not that the politics was ever lowest common denominator)and a greater musical complexity (perhaps from the metal influence, perhaps from a prog influence). These qualities have become more and more integrated into their sound and the apex of this style so far, for me, was the 2009 effort Supporting Caste. So enthusiastic was my response to what was - really - a purchase on a whim, I topped up my collection of the band's discography and, upon hearing about the upcoming Failed States, pre-ordered my copy, complete with pre-release download and t-shirt (as a vegan and a thrash fan, I am well chuffed with my tribute to Razor T).
Upon multiple listens, my opinion is that this is a follow-up to Supporting Caste that is very similar in style. There are differences but they are subtle. There is a little less melody (only a little, though) and a touch more metal. Some people have gone as far as to call Propagandhi a thrash act - I don't see that. It's one of the fantastic things about this band - their sound is fairly unique. I'd probably place the roots as melodic hardcore but they have expanded the influences to fantastic effect. Anyway, this slight increase in metalisms has led to a more frantic sound overall. The result is a great, fierce collection of songs.
There are no songs that I'd describe as filler because all the songs are enjoyable, though with the pace, it does take a while for each song to individualise itself. The opening track has a fantastic, emotive build up that remains nice and heavy through out. The title track flies by and is a great speed number. The next highlight of the album for me is the tracks 6-9: Status Update bursts out it's frustration as inane social networking; Cognitive Suicide comes in the middle with it's metallic chug opener, before bringing out some crazy guitar parts, some of the most emotive singing of the album and finishing with the thrashiest solo of the album; Things I Like is another fast number with a slightly more positive spin with some nice praise for The Supremes and Propagandhi's hockey team of choice, as well as a great riff; finally Unscripted Moment which is extremely catchy, still heavy but greatly emotive. However, there are no weak links in the album and I'm sure other people will have their own preferences.
The lyrics remain political as ever and fiercely intelligent. Propagandhi appear incapable of writing a song without throwing in a bunch of references you wouldn't think of or may not even be aware of. The lyrics are obviously an important part of the band and it's great to have a band whose lyric sheet is more than just learning the words but are worth fully studying in their own right to establish the full political content.
My praise for this band is almost unending. By comparison to Supporting Caste, I would probably put this slightly behind it, but that may just be because I'm more familiar with it and because the album took me by surprise. This album is almost 15 minutes shorter which allows less time for hooks, especially considering the pace. However, this album is not a drop in quality, it's just current preference. If you're familiar with what Propagandhi are up to these days and you're considering a purchase, I wouldn't hesitate. If you've been unsure since Tomorrow's Empire, you'll probably have the same reservations. If you are new to the band, this release is wholly worthwhile if you like melodic hardcore and you don't mind structural complexity or metallic riffing and solos. A near peerless band continuing to do what they do very, very well.