Yes, this is the same Casualties which have been producing album after album of spiky haired drunk punk for some years now. But first, please allow me to digress and paint a picture for you. Turn the dial on the way back machine and sidle up with a steaming cup of coffee for a little fireside chat. My first exposure to The Casualties would be reading a review of their second 7, A Fucking Way of Life, in Maximum Rock N Roll, which drew me to it with a comparison of The Casualties to The Exploited - a guilty pleasure of mine. Luckily, the Victory Records distribution catalog (how I ordered many of my records back in the day) was stocking the 7, and along with the cash for the other records which would be mine, I threw in the extra three bucks for The Casualties record. I will not lie about it as that EP saw not only a number of spins on the turntable but also a crappy cassette recording for my hunk of junk car.
Well, it would be nigh on five years until I heard them again, this time on their first album (yes, I came to it very late around the time their second album dropped). Not much changed about them so I gave that record a few spins. Repeat this story every few times a new record comes out from the band (but with the number of spins dwindling to a halt) and you may get a picture of a cursory interest in what is now a veritable punk rock institution. So when the opportunity to actually review their newest album, some fifteen years after my initial exposure to the group, a perverse sense of glee came over me as if this task would bring about a sense of closure regarding this strange fascination of the band.
We are All We Have is album number seven or eight from The Casualties and continues to show that yes, these guys are punk, and more punk than anyone else on the planet. But that just might be part of the charm of the group. If you have ever heard a record from The Casualties, than there is certainly a base line established for what you can expect from this album, although there are a couple of twists on the bands tried and true formula. If hearing the band has thus far escaped your virgin ears, than what you get is at times catchy and at times hard street punk with unmistakable vocals that you will never mistake for someone else. Production wise, We are All We Have might just be the best sounding Casualties album that I remember hearing, the backing vocals are just so slick sounding that it is kind of weird to hear (check out We are All We Have for instance). Structurally, these songs are punk rock through and through; you would never confuse The Casualties with King Crimson, and the band members are more than okay with that from the boasts in the songs, although the reggae influenced tracks are a bit of a curveball. Some songs like Stand Against Them All have a significant amount of melodic injection throughout, which, in all honesty, is more than a bit surprising. Lyrically, the songs range from pro-punk chants to environmentalist diatribes proclaiming the possible destruction that massive climate changes might bring (see Apocalypse Today) to anti-war sloganeering (War is Business). There are also some rather introspective songs.
Are The Casualties the kings of modern punk rock? Maybe, maybe not. But the band definitely is still kicking in most of the ways that they did when I was first exposed to them. We are All We Have shows why The Casualties are still relevant to those that plant their feet firmly under the punk rock banner, and even though the group can sound a bit sophomoric in their delivery, there is still a strong semblance of sincerity in every yell and power chord. And there is still a place for such acts, a niche which The Casualties are happy to fill. A strong effort from The Casualties, We are All We Have is unmistakably their record.
6.0 / 10
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