AGNOSTIC FRONT: RIOT, RIOT, UPSTART (1999)
1) Police State; 2) I Had Enough; 3) Riot Riot Upstart; 4) Sit And Watch; 5) Blood, Death & Taxes; 6) Frustration; 7) Sickness; 8) Shadows; 9) Nowhere To Go; 10) Trust; 11) My Life; 12) It's Time; 13) Rock Star; 14) Nothing's Free; 15) Price You Pay; 16) Jailbreak; 17) Bullet On Mott St.
If you ask me to name three different things between this album and the previous one, I will name them — their titles each consist of three different words. If you ask me to name ten different things between this album and the previous one, I will name three, and the rest you'll just have to figure out by induction.
But I also admit I did not give the album more than the prescription-required three listens, during all of which I only had one potentially productive idea — namely, that somehow Mötörhead have now joined the list of influences on this band, something that should have decidedly happened a long time ago (or maybe it did, and I only just noticed). Check out the vocal melody on 'Sickness' (yes, I said vocal melody) — isn't it lifted straight off 'Mötörhead' (the song)? At least, until the chorus starts and turns it into a New Wave-style power-pop thing?
Overall, the whole thing may be a tad more melodic and, if you so wish, even memorable than Something's Gotta Give. Certainly 'Police State' is memorable, consisting of nothing but the lines "New York, Police State! / New York we hate you! / Giuliani Giuliani Giuliani fuck you!" shouted over and over again for one minute — and it may help you memorize the name of NYC's former mayor where all else fails. (On the other hand, it also dates the song — inserting 'Bloomberg' instead would be fairly difficult in rhythmic terms, not to mention garnering anti-Semitic connotations). The title track is also a fairly inspiring rebellious anthem, but, like everything else here, it would require a more cleverly thought out rhythm guitar part to become truly special.
In general, all complaints remain the same: the songs are direct, honest, brutal, completely devoid of MTV-punk gloss, but individual tunes rarely stand out, and when they do, it is mostly due to a gang chorus repeated sixty times over a hundred and twenty second ('My Life'). Agnostic Front do not have the Ramones' supernatural ability to turn simplicity into genius — their simplicity, sooner or later, degenerates into boredom, and most of the songs are as boring as their titles, nearly each of which I remember associated with a much better song.
'I Had Enough'? Paul «Agnostic Front Suck Because They Kill Animals» McCartney. Better. '(It's) My Life'? Eric «Agnostic Front Will Never Be More Punk Than Me When I'm Drunk» Burdon & The Animals. Much better. 'Trust'? Elvis «It Was I Who Created Agnostic Front And Everyone Else With The Sheer Strength Of My Intellect» Costello. Much much better. 'Nothing's Free'? Alice «If That Miret Guy Likes To Shock Some Much, Where The Fuck Is The Guillotine?» Cooper. Much much much better. 'Jailbreak'? Phil «Don't Tell Me About The Evils Of Growing Up In The Streets» Lynott & Thin Lizzy — much much much much better. And we could go on like that all night — there's a whole seventeen tracks here, the only good news being that the album still clocks in at less than 29 minutes.
But from what my gut instincts tell me, by the average standards of average hardcore, this is still damn good average hardcore. For lovers of the genre, this should register just about on the same level as, say, one of those late period B. B. King albums should register for blues lovers.
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