From The North is Raised Fist’s first release since 2009’s Veil of Ignorance, and is a continuation of the style and sound honed on that album. Veil of Ignorance was a ridiculously catchy album, and a repetitive guilty pleasure for this reviewer. The reason I could not fully get behind Veil of Ignorance, despite not being able to stop listening to it, is the tendency of the band’s sound to meander towards a nu-metal or rapcore style. From the North continues in this same direction. The vocals are lacerating, the lyrics are angry, the guitar riffs are heavy, but at times it feels just a little too much like listening to early 2000’s era MTV rap rock. That being said, From The North is overall a very enjoyable album, and an impressive release from a band that has been relatively quiet over the past several years.
While the vocal rhythms on the album are the primary element which gives From the North a rappy feel, vocalist Alexander Hagman’s tone is aggressive and unique enough to situate Raised Fist solidly within the hardcore punk genre. Alexander sounds genuinely pissed off, and his trademark yelling still sounds like his lungs are going to disintegrate and explode out of all facial orifices twenty plus years after Raised Fist’s firs release. The band has not toned down their anger or aggression, nor does it feel like these emotions are being fabricated. From the North possesses a palpable feeling of outrage, something which I believe is quintessential to a good hardcore punk record.
The lyrical content varies between scathing criticisms of society, politics, and the music scene to introspective reflections on the band itself. "Man And Earth" is a standout track lyrically and musically, dealing with issues surrounding global climate change and our collective inability to take appropriate steps towards addressing this issue.
“Its a new day, a new game. This is how we play when we betray man and earth. A bad combination. People are asleep. Maximum sedation.”
It’s heartening to see seasoned musical veterans still using their songs as a platform to address serious issues, and doing it with anger and style.
Another standout track is "Gates." It's one of the only straight ahead fast tempo hardcore punk song songs on the album. This track is reminiscent of Raised Fist’s earlier releases, and could fit on Ignoring the Guidelines or Dedication. It’s very heavy, and compliments the rest of the album well. The entire album clocks in at 32 minutes, and flows coherently from start to finish. The one exception for me was “Ready to Defy,” which features guest vocals on the chorus which shoot right across rap/rock boundary.
For anyone who enjoyed Veil of Ignorance, I would highly recommend checking out From the North. The band basically sticks to the same formula. If you can get behind the style, From the North will have you banging your head and wishing you could high-kick like Alexander.
8.0 / 10
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