Review Summary: For what the hardcore punk documentary "American Hardcore" represented, "Millions of Dead Cops" encapsulates with a lot less fluff.
I remember…walking out of the theatre thinking to myself “My God, that film could have been so much better
.” It seemed like the documentary American Hardcore
was thrown together rather than organized and ended up being a poor amalgamation of acts and actions at the time, though the sentiment was well understood. Among the hardcore punk acts featured were MDC, whose song “I Remember” is symbolic of the reasons that spawned the hardcore movement. It’s the highlight of their 1982 release Millions of Dead Cops
, a spitting attack on a modern, ignorant society. For what American Hardcore
represented, Millions of Dead Cops
encapsulates with a lot less fluff.
MDC hails out of Austin, Texas, a fine launching point for their mission against the “army of the rich” and the “pompous hair shirted sooth sayers.” To MDC, these enemies are tearing down their fellow man by spreading ignorance, racism, sexism, homophobia, and using the law to strip minority groups of their dignity. Equating the KKK, mafia, and the police as the “anti-brotherhood,” MDC instructs its listeners to “…take your stand…There’s no God in heaven so get off your knees.” Their ideas are liberal at a minimum but usually radically progressive when gripping the microphone.
If you’re not turned off by now (or if you’re turned on), you still haven’t passed the album jacket. Once you get past the line of cops on the album cover, or the split drawing of a police officer/clan member holding a gun in your direction, you’re submerged into a stunning hardcore extravaganza. Since a lot of hardcore punk lacks variety, MDCs creative instrumental talents bleed through vocalist Dave Dictor’s snarls, differentiating MDC from average hardcore acts. MDC controls tempo throughout the album with funky breakdowns (“Dick for Brains,” “John Wayne Was a Nazi”) and quick drumroll transitions that ignite the rest of their crew (“Corporate Deathburger,” “Dead Cops/America’s So Straight”). Millions of Dead Cops
is unrelenting, disguised as a repetitive freight train of sound, but surrounded by well-constructed grooves and hooks. It storms around with ferocious angst, but maintains a clever approach throughout the album to stay concentrated.
Cleverness and intelligence go hand in hand, hinting wisdom and critical thinking abilities of a higher level. MDC employs very cynical lyrics with a heightened awareness of their surroundings, lending a metaphorical hand to the oppressed and uninformed. Their song “Dead Cops/America’s So Straight” is a dual confrontation of the police and homophobic Americans, questioning “What makes America so straight and me so bent?” The transitions within the song demonstrate significant innovation as the song rotates subject matter with ease. The attacks of Americans are perpetual, whether it’s criticizing John Wayne’s image for legitimizing the Klan’s propaganda, or hammering away at the mindless citizens with “grey buildings, grey people, grey food, grey walls.” There are also the entertaining light-hearted critiques of American lifestyle, with the brutally honest portrayal in “My Family is a Little Weird,” and the common adolescent failures addressed in “Dick for Brains.” It’s fun for the whole family.
Millions of Dead Cops
is fast, smart, and creative. It blends a direct hardcore approach with a few twists to become one of the most unique hardcore albums of its time. The majority of its perspectives thrive at their end of the spectrum, with the views founded on a society that prefers “Socialism for the rich, capitalism for the rest of us.” You would be wise to avoid American Hardcore
in favor of an album that can sum up the whole deal in less than half the time.