AGNOSTIC FRONT: DEAD YUPPIES (2001)
1) I Wanna Know; 2) Out Of Reach; 3) Everybody's A Critic; 4) Liberty; 5) Club Girl; 6) Uncle Sam; 7) Urban Decadence; 8) Love To Be Hated; 9) No Mercy; 10) Politician; 11) Pedophile; 12) Alright; 13) Dead Yuppies; 14) Standing On My Own.
Recorded with Mike Gallo on bass this time, and I almost think I can hear the difference — some damn fine basslines on occasion, particularly on 'Pedophile' (no implications meant). It is also one of those 2001 releases that got in accidental trouble for you-know-what: the title Dead Yuppies was generated before 9/11, and the album sleeves were most likely printed before that date, too, or else the band would have probably changed the title. As it was, all they could do was delay the release by a few weeks — and then slap an annoying sticker on each copy, explaining how deeply they feel about the plight of, er, all them «dead yuppies». Cowards, I say. Hypocrites.
But you know what? The album itself is decidedly not half-bad. In fact — in response to surprised complaints about why I should spend time reviewing the entire lengthy career of a band I so obviously do not give a damn about — it was almost worth it sitting through Agnostic Front's shitty efforts to arrive at something like Dead Yuppies. To me, it sounds like the culmination, and the most sensible product of the band's second pure-hardcore phase of existence.
Basically, the songs are a wee bit slower, a tad less noisy, a trifle more disciplined, and a tiny touch more melodic than on the previous two albums. Without sacrificing the spirit, they have somewhat improved on the form. At its best, Dead Yuppies sounds like it actually is carrying on the tradition of early 1980s accessible hardcore — the one that was more concerned with toughening up the achievements of «pop punk» rather than with breaking the barriers between punk and pure noise.
Among other things, Dead Yuppies contains my absolutely favorite Agnostic Front song — 'Liberty', an anthem as straightforward as any they have ever written, but completely noise-free and with a catchy singalong chorus to boot. It is almost amazing how a phrase as trite as "give me liberty or give me death" can still sound so inspiring in the year 2001, but somehow, it does. This is the magic of Agnostic Front: they may have very little musical talent (or so it would seem), and their metal yearnings may more often lead them away from the path of righteousness than onto it, but when they're on, they're ON — there is no doubting the genuine heat of the fire that is working out their steampower.
I am also amused by 'Love To Be Hated', featuring the hilarious phrase "well I know somebody somewhere is gonna FUCK ME!" delivered in an utterly hilarious way; by the above-mentioned 'Pedophile', whose shift between the loud chainsaw-buzz sections and the quiet, bass-driven parts is certainly more of an achievement than the chorus ("Kill yourself, suicide, it's about time you fuckin' die" — Miret's paternal advice to the protagonist); and by 'Standing On My Own', another fairly convincing anthem. Actually, it may be so that the chief attraction of Dead Yuppies are its gang choruses and, uh, «vocal harmonies», adding melody, structure, and individual hooks to the band's usual pile of similar-sounding energy blasts. But why not?
Even if most of the other songs still fall short of occupying the proper memory cells, it is important to understand — here is an album recorded in 2001 that sounds exactly like it could have been recorded in 1981, not a year later. For comparison, could the Rolling Stones circa 1983 record an album that'd sound totally 1963? And not just from a purely technical standpoint, but actually conveying the same spirit? I'd say this alone is a fine achievement on the part of these guys, and merits at least an «intellectual» thumbs up, if not necessarily an emotional one. Especially considering all the evolution (= degradation) of the punk scene over that 20-year period.
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