It used to be cool when you’d open up Sick Of It All‘s CD for Just Look Around and see them hangin’ out with Sepultura or whoever and just everyone bein’ cool. Before that you had DRI bring “crossover” most fully (with their album of the same name), and the eventual deathcorn-holed anus of the low end diaper filler breakdown riffs we know and love today. It is not inevitable, however that Rage begets Bizkit begets Deathcore or whatever bad metaphor you want to insert here. I’m not here to trash on anyone.
Sick Of It All need to be celebrated, man. This band simply embody whatever they encompass, be it the more crossover sounds so many fell in love with on Scratch The Surface to wider appeal or the staying power of more straight up hardcore dance-a-thon classic Built To Last. Or the unbridled assault on the issues of the day that was (perhaps still high water mark) Death To Tyrants. Regardless of your favorite era of the band (my fave record is actually Yours Truly, believe it or not), Sick Of It All are on point.
We hate when a band alludes to the end in an album title or song name, but it thrills popular culture junkies to know we are watching “The Final Season” of a show and that plot threads will resolve, at the same time. End Hits didn’t turn out to be Fugazi’s last record. The verdict is out on if it was Iron Maiden’s Final Frontier, but I doubt it. End Game would have been a great place for Megadeth to stop before Super Collider. It’s all because an artist has made great works that we hold them to the highest standards, regardlessof if I disagree with some of Mustaine’s politics, for example. I know Ted Nugent can write “Stranglehold”, so even if I disagree with his politics on many issues, I still can seperate the musician and what they espouse. Sick Of It All I simply champion because they stand for real shit, true hardcore and always kick out the killer jams…all while uplifting the community. This is NYHC. This is defiance. But also dignity and grace, hard knocks and all.
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At first when you hear opener “Sound The Alarm” you may think it is a standard issue fast SOIA song, but it is so focused and a rallying point of a killer shout along anthem. The guitar breakdown is monstrous fun and the tune has everything that makes SOIA great in 1:48 seconds. That song is gonna be apes nuts live. This record goes on to champion standing up to total control from unjust governments or asking questions about “who will be around” in 2061 and how we are ruining the world now but since justice wont be served will we bother feeling ashamed in time? “No one wants to admit they saw society collapse” is one of my favorite Koller lyrics in awhile. People want to film everything but don’t want to be filmed, meekly complicit but oddly unsatisfied. But yeah, it’s a kind of later career gem like this song that makes me always check out veteran band’s albums. From “MCA Dub” from Bad Brains to “Robin Hood In Reverse” from Bad Religion to this Sick Of It All tune, many of these acts are still making some of their best music. I can’t wait for the next Anti-Flag, for example.
“Road Less Traveled”, the punk crowd friendly “Beltway Gateway” and “Never Back Down” or the alert and charged “Get Bronx” scream to get organized and not lose sight of goals. It’s all great shit, fired across the ramparts by a band still hungry to participate in the World around them, not be “sidelined” and still in love with the sound of rowdy hardcore as a means for social change. If that’s too much for ya, just listen to the guitar break :59 from the end of “Get Bronx” and bash your brains out, but you’re missing half the real fun. Risk it all.
If you go down fighting injustice, at least you stood tall.
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