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Friday, July 29, 2011

Agnostic Front: Cause For Alarm


AGNOSTIC FRONT: CAUSE FOR ALARM (1986)

1) The Eliminator; 2) Existence Of Hate; 3) Time Will Come; 4) Growing Concern; 5) Your Mistake; 6) Out For Blood; 7) Toxic Shock; 8) Bomber Zee; 9) Public Assistance; 10) Shoot His Load.

More chronicles of big city life from New York's trustiest slum kid advocates. Fortunately, there are some changes made, or else I wouldn't know how to write one extra word on Agnostic Front's sophomore release. Musically, they are moving a little bit closer to the metal side of things and — dare I say it? — even a little bit closer to a melodic sound, mostly due to the addition of second guitarist Alex Kinon. «A little bit» in that a few of the riffs are discernible, and some of the solos run up and down the scales just like they are supposed to for heavy metal players.

Add to this that Roger Miret occasionally delivers the lyrics with mildly careful enunciation —after all, if you want to share your tales of street ugliness with the fans, you might as well ensure that the fans understand at least a tenth part of what is being told — throw on some kickass me­tal­lic «gang choruses», and you get as close as this band would ever get to a song-based «album» instead of simply a twenty-minute slab of sonic brutality. Not that Cause For Alarm really isn't a slab of sonic brutality — it most definitely is — but by the average standards of A.F., it almost sounds like a «sissy» album.

Not in its lyrics, though, which scale new levels of animal hatred (either genuine or ironically si­mulated, depending on your own endorsement of hatred and/or irony). "Killing's my business and business is fine" is the line that opens the record — clearly, someone in the band had just turned a big Megadeth fan (Killing Is My Business came out one year before), and another song that «neu­trally» — no subjective evaluation offered whatsoever, except for a couple inconclusive apo­lo­getic remarks — describes the infamous Bernhard Goetz incident ('Shoot His Load') is the album-closer. In between, there's paranoid thought, apo­calyptic thought, anti-religious thought, anti-social thought, and lotsa talk of death and killing.

In an unusual twist, one song — 'Public Assistance' — openly turns against welfare suckers, as if to prove that Agnostic Front are no close-minded, reality-ignoring leftists; politically speaking, this earns them a few extra points for the ability to assess the situation from different angles, but then, discussing the «ideology» of Roger Miret and his friends on a serious level is much like dis­cussing the impact of 'All You Need Is Love' on world struggle for peace. (For the record, I do not deny that there has been an impact — it's just that one needs to embark on a serious quest in order to locate the ones impacted).

Although, for the most part, the band still clings to laconicity, size no longer matters as much to them as it did before. There is even one four-minute song here ('Growing Concern'), with a near-epic structure — a grim drum-and-feedback fade-in, a «long» solo passage, and a slow «despe­rate» coda; it only remained to make the main riff a bit more distinctive, and they could have en­ded up with an all-time hardcore classic. But, on the other hand, that could tempt somebody into ripping one of the songs out of its context — and, just like their debut, Cause For Alarm is an al­bum to be engulfed altogether, in one sitting.

In the «recommendation» department, Cause For Alarm is a better proposition for «non-hard­core fans of hardcore» than Victim In Pain — more lyrically and instrumentally diverse, more tolerable in terms of singing, and the colorful album cover contains no elements of distasteful hy­perbole (after all, no matter how hard and dangerous NYC life could be in the early 1980s, I doubt that anybody out there would volunteer to exchange it for even one year of vacation in the Eastern Europe of 1939-45). On the other hand, supposedly all fans of hardcore are hardcore, so it's hard to see how any of them could view this transition in a positive light. Which, allegedly, ex­plains the next permutation of Agnostic Front.


Check "Cause For Alarm" (CD) on Amazon

1 comment:

  1. Although I didn't know this when I reviewed it, apparently most of the lyrics on this album were written by Peter Steele of Type O Negative. So I guess we can blame the reactionary stuff on him?

    Best,
    Mark Prindle

    ReplyDelete