Reviews Propagandhi Failed States

Propagandhi

Failed States

Unless you’ve only just been introduced to Canadian punk music from the past quarter century, you've already come to expect a few things from a new Propagandhi record. There are no pre-release jitters, no faint thoughts tugging at the forefront of your consciousness that maybe this’ll be the one to disappoint. Time and time again, the Winnipeg-based quartet have delivered. Through line-up changes to the steady evolution from abrasive, snotty punk jams to tight, uncompromising progressive thrash, Propagandhi have never faltered or slowed down. And damnit, they've done it again.

Failed States, their 6th studio album and first for Epitaph Records, is without a doubt the same calibre of unbridled, pissed off raw emotion so eloquently displayed over the band’s past 5 albums. Socio-political commentary is draped over wave after wave of pummeling riffs, thundering drums, and droning bass lines. Beginning with the aptly titled “Note To Self,” vocalist/guitarist Chris Hannah’s authoritative voice rises above crisp production and barks his discontent at societal complacency, while the rest of the song builds around him in an almost restrained manner until the floodgates open almost 5 and a half minutes in. From there the rest of the record rolls on unhinged, flying along at a blistering pace and leaving no trace of their melodic pop-punk roots to be seen.

One thing Propagandhi hasn't been afraid to flaunt in recent years is their impressive technical prowess, yet again showcased in brilliant spurts and sprinkled throughout Failed States. The album’s title track begins much like Supporting Caste’s “Dear Coach’s Corner,” chugging along at a pummeling rate and infused with quick guitar licks which are over almost as soon as they begin. From that point on Failed States contains some of the heaviest songs Propagandhi’s ever written, with songs like “Rattan Cane” doing their best at tearing down the world around them with the subtlety of a fighter jet, accompanied by vocalist/bassist Todd Kowalski’s grating roar. The advantages of the 2006 addition of David “the Beaver” Guilas are more apparent than ever before as the four-piece seems as comfortable as they’ve ever been, trading off sprawling guitar riffs with ferocious precision.

Propagandhi’s come a long way since their days of baiting skinheads and indirectly starting riots outside of Denver venues. Though they may not be the same scrawny punk kids who released How To Clean Everything 18 years ago, they’ve aged nicely and pissed off almost everyone in the process. Failed States is just another chapter in a long, storied, tongue-in-cheek narrative, yet it stands as strong and defiant as ever. From the vicious bass line imbedded in “Cognitive Suicide” to the rambling nods to Kurt Russell and the Toronto Maple Leafs in “Things I Like,” one thing remains clear. This album fucking slays.

9.0 / 10Nick M.
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