Thursday, October 9, 2014

Sick Of It All Last Act of Defiance Review

Sick Of It All
Last Act of Defiance
Century Media
Review by hutch

Riding the momentum of the astonishing two prior LPs, SICK OF IT ALL return to sear audiences with a raw, fierce record reflecting our current cultural climate. 4 dudes from queens, with a piercing global awareness and urgency, motivate hardcore fans, from the nubile to the decrepit, to finger point and swing fists to the true spirit of NYHC. Last Act of Defiance is NYHC stripped down to its base motivation of taut, frantic indignation as propulsion for change.

There is no question that Sick Of It All’s integrity, heart and energy are in full throttle even as they approach they approach the thirty year mark in hardcore. Some may wonder about the sound though. Death to Tyrants proved that the hate and cynicism could still be savagely expressed over dark, metal-tinged stomp fests. Based on a True Story blended each album of their catalogue into a nostalgic romp. As we get blessed with yet another SOIA album, they strip down to pure NYHC grit and fury.

They have been sticking with the same producer, Tru Madsen, as they feel he gets their sound perfectly. As we enter into another flawless full length, I can appreciate the repeated visits. The other aspect of stability is their label, Century Media. I have seen Sick Of It All in smaller venues over the last few years (as I have since 1990) and there is no question of the dedication and intensity they can unleash on an audience.

Sick Of It All keeps the tried and true formula on lock while style feeling fresh and invigorating. I want fast songs with harsh tones leading into pit inducing breakdowns; while Lou screams with a ferocity rarely matched. “Sound the Alarm” opens it just like that. “2061” barrels in calling for some honesty some from our government, as they have done since “Politics” and “Injustice System”. Frenetic noise lingers adding a layer to the raw delivery.
Mmost people mellow with age. I have not. This is why Sick Of It All will always remain in my top 3 and continue to be a soundtrack for this confused world extolling broken systems. A New York groove pulsates through it but never overtakes the furious execution of rebellious anthems. When you tile a song, “Get Bronx”, the home of KRS-One, you better have a little swing in the riff. And SOIA does. This song would clear a dance floor quickly.

Musically, this is Scratch the Surface meets Call to Arms. Many sing-alongs and gang vocals ensnare the listener into frenzied anthems. Infusing punk and Oi into metallic edged tracks, SOIA’s spirit is evident as they keep screaming about injustice and their dedication to loyal friends. Sick Of It All exposes a pith which is forged with indignation and education. They attempt to incite their audience, to eradicate complacence. And with their charged tunes, I cannot understand how some would sit idly while listening.

Expanding the family, Mad Joe from Wisdom In Chains (SOIA’s closest inheritors of the crown)joins on “Facing the Abyss”. One song goes beyond 2:30; at 2:43. “Act Your Rage”, under 1:30, boasts “We still feel this deep in our soul!” to back up a vitriolic spewing of disdain for the judgmental fakes in the scene. That song is quickly followed by a big riff in “Disconnect Your Flesh”, a condemnation of those wasting days and weeks attached to the materialistic ennui of modern life, which ends with a dark, heavy breakdown.

“Sidelined” is a sped up romp, highlighted by a churning riff that spazzes into fast parts. “Part of History” shows Armand relentlessly beating his drums into submission.  Again, The production captures Craig Ahead’s low, jangling bass lines the push Pete’s riffs to twist and spiral. A slow sludge like twirl at the end of this track adds variety.  “Losing War”, “DNC”, and “Outgunned” all embody the best aspects of SOIA’s reign.

Sick Of It All continues with a Napalm Death like resurgence since Yours Truly with now another classic NYHC collection of rage fueled songs; each album proving they still have it and can dominate a scene of worthy opponents. It’s fucking awesome. I sure as hell hope this is not their Last Act of Defiance. I could use about five more of this caliber of albums. There is a clear, a black, a colored (180gm) version thanks to CM. Digitally, (e.g., on Spotify; there are two bonus tracks – which totals to sixteen – including a Fergusn appropriate, “Stand Down”). Digipack CDs are available too. Please don’t miss out on the artwork and lyrics here. These words are the most important part.