Contrary to popular belief, punk is not dead. It’s not even on life support. Whether it’s the DIY scene, the bands that constantly tour the country, or the larger established acts that constantly stretch the boundaries of the genre, it’s alive, well, and thriving in America, and why I still love going to a good punk show with a hundred people and mixing it up with strangers who are instant friends through the music.
I recently had the opportunity to preview the new AGNOSTIC FRONT disc, The American Dream Died (April 7, Nuclear Blast Records). The first third of the disc is predictable AGNOSTIC FRONT, and they go through all of the standard tropes of political punk rock – fuck the government, fuck the police, fuck the rich, and fuck you if you don’t like them. The songs aren’t bad, but I’ve heard them before from this band, just with different titles and lyrics.
The remaining 2/3 of the disc is where this release shines. “Never Walk Alone” and “Just Like Yesterday” celebrate the vibrant punk scene in America over the last 35 years. “Social Justice” happily recounts the fate of a child molester once they’ve gone to prison. “Reasonable Doubt” laments the lack of accountability of Wall Street for causing the last worldwide recession, and “No War Fuck You” is a fast and short anti-war protest song that’s intense and catchy at the same time. A personal highlight for me are the great gang vocals on “Old New York” – they really take me back to my musical roots in the dingy clubs of the 1980’s.
AGNOSTIC FRONT came out of the NYHC scene and moved to more of a crossover thrash sound in the mid-80s, and they’ve stuck true to their sound on the new release for good or ill. The music is pretty standard – there are no surprises, but it’s nice and solid. I’ve never been a fan of Roger Miret’s vocals – it often feels like he’s spitting the words at the microphone, rather than singing, but it’s not on every song, and it’s not something that ruins the songs for me – just a personal taste.
Punk is alive and well, and so is AGNOSTIC FRONT. The American Dream Died probably isn’t a must-have for pop punk enthusiasts, but it is going to be enjoyed by fans of classic punk and it’s extremely accessible for those new to the genre that may not be ready for the classic raw sounding recordings of the early 1980’s. I can recommend this one quite happily.
STANDOUT TRACKS: “Old New York”, “Just Like Yesterday”, “Social Justice”, “Attack!”, “Reasonable Doubt”, “I Can’t Relate”