AGNOSTIC FRONT: SOMETHING'S GOTTA GIVE (1998)
1) Something's Gotta Give; 2) Believe; 3) Gotta Go; 4) Before My Eyes; 5) No Fear; 6) Blinded; 7) Voices; 8) Do Or Die; 9) My War; 10) Bloodsucker; 11) The Blame; 12) Today, Tomorrow, Forever; 13) Rage; 14) Pauly The Dog; 15) Crucified.
Another surprise! After three or four years of lay-off, Agnostic Front are back — with a vengeance, some might say, but it is too hard for me to separate hardcore vengeance from hardcore offense. With the position of second guitarist officially unoccupied (inofficially filled in by fellow punker Brad Logan, but only on some of the tracks), and Vinnie Stigma's chops on their own leaving much to be desired, the band has now completely dropped all metal influences and retreated back into familiar territory. Almost as if starting from scratch, they now make a record that, technically at least, sounds closer to Victim In Pain than anything they ever did since then.
Not that this makes me happy, in any way, because, being so loyal to their legacy, they also retain the condition that no two songs should sound different from each other, and no one song should sound different from tuneless, if rhythmic, noise. The condition is broken on but two occasions. 'Gotta Go' is a curiously well-composed singalong «revolutionary» anthem with a real vocal melody to sing along to. Obstinately repetitive, simplistic, but it does work as yer basic call to arms when your goal is to enlist those who can't read or write. And then there is that unexpected, shocking break into folk territory with 'Pauly The (Beer Drinking) Dog'. Just to show the world that these guys sometimes like to play the fool without resorting to insane speed and distortion. Otherwise, it is not even particularly funny.
The only ittsy-bittsy smidge of consolation is that Miret's vocals have de-evolved back to the level of gruff barking, so that he no longer comes across as a village idiot with a chicken bone in his throat who just won the charity lottery to become Slayer's next vocalist. Had he continued to expectorate in the style of the preceding decade, this, coupled with the near-complete lack of songwriting and/or interesting playing, would have made the album completely unlistenable. As such, it is simply generic hardcore, palatable for lovers of the genre, but not yours truly. In a way, it is admirable that the band still packs plenty of punch after more than a decade of tribulations, but the songs have no lasting value whatsoever. Thumbs down.