Review Summary: And who said old, hispanic guys can't write a good punk album? All of you? I thought so too. But The Casualties prove to be the exception.
Allow me to start off saying, this is a ballsy, working man punk album. I'm not a huge fan of this band, but I've seen them twice opening for Leftover Crack and Municipal Waste. I got a compilation album going through their early years, and i thought they'd be terrible live, mostly because of the second singer. I was proven wrong, as I usually am. They put on a great show.
But, now to the album. The album is extremely high energy throughout, mixing elements from many punk sub-genres even including some crossover (thrash) here and there during intros and choruses. The guitar introduces something not done too often in real punk (emphasis on REAL), and has a few solos. Most of these solos are quick and not overly complex, but short, sweet, and to the point. The only kind that should be in a punk release. But as for the rhythm, the guitar lines are quite good, and don't sound washed up as most new punk does. How much can you do with a hand full of chords per song anyway? However, the guitar has a lot more dirt to the tone than their earlier recordings, yielding a heavier, tighter guitar sound in general. The drums on the album are fairly tight and not overly repetitive as punk drums usually are, but I can't lie to you guys, it's nothing special beyond the realm of punk. As for the bass, there are tons of awesome driving bass lines throughout the abum. The drum and bass breaks are some of my favorite in punk. They hit hard, fast, and lots of other ways you can say "that's what she said" to. The arrangement on the album is also very good for a punk band, often involving many different parts to a song, which isn't done a whole lot in roots punk. But I have to say, the thing that drove me to like this album so much is Jorge's singing. It really brings the whole "we will not die, so deal with it," hardcore sound together. Still having definte common threads with older recordings, even those dating to the bands formation, his vocals are fairly low and very raspy. The amount of punk brilliance in his voice is evident throughout.
Now that I've outlined the sounds in general, I'll get more into the specifics of the album. As said before, it's a very high energy trip through punk sonic space, and should be appreciated by those who really like punk. The breakdowns are awesome and quite frequent, usually involving medium speed chugging with chords and slides thrown in, and the drum work during these breakdowns is for the most part very good. A lot of the songs have heavy pop-punk influences, often involving your regular punk riffing with more compact highly voiced chords and progressions over top to set the mood as a happy, sing along song. But the album does have a darker side, with many political songs with more depressing instrumentals, but they never let up on the energy. Almost all the songs use gang vocals heavily,which some can see as a bad thing, but I've never heard them done better besides the obvious choices of those who started the trend in music (i.e. old school hardcore, thrash, metal, and punk bands). But it does get a little ridiculous at times, sounding like Jorge is arguing with the rest of the band as the vocals go back and forth from him to gang for, at times, entire verses or choruses.
Some tracks of note include Carry on the Flag, We Are All We Have, Apocalypse Today, War Is Business, In the Tombs (my personal favorite off the album), Deppression-Unemployment Lines, and Rockers Reggae. Carry on the flag is just the perfect intro for the album. You'll just have to listen to it and a few of the good tracks to understand. We Are All We Have is a hard hitting song with an awesome intro. It's fast and the gang vocals are brilliantly done. Apocalypse Today outlines the horrors and realities of the state of our planet and its people due to the *** care of past generations and the government. War Is Business outlines the travesties that come with war and is more of a depressing song. In the Tombs outlines a night in which a person is drinking and manages to get beaten up by the police. This is the most dynamic song on the album, opening with a reggae part with a dirty guitar sound, breaking into neck snapping punk, then into a straight reggae jam worthy of jamaican roots music. The second reggae part in In the Tombs is basically just a shortened version of Rockers Reggae, which is an 8 minute epic and talks about the hardships the band has gone through and how most modern "punk" bands don't have the feel of the music. If my ears serve me correctly, I believe they take a stab at the Vans Warped Tour, which i have no problem with, besides the fact I'm pretty sure they've played Warped Tour a few times. Just one example of the anger the band has towards bands who claim to be punk. Depression-Unemployment Lines has the best intro on the album, starting with triplets on the kick drum, then introducing each instrument playing along. This goes on before going into yet another hardcore number. Sick intro.
There really aren't too many negative things to say about this album if you actually like punk. As said before, while the gang vocals are done well, they are very frequent. Also, some say the band doesn't stick to their usual sound with this release (or hasn't since '02 for that matter), but I think they just expanded upon it in a good way. Cause while I liked their earlier stuff, I like this a lot more. But no one's going to read this review anyway besides people who are fans of the bad, and with that said, I'm just writing this review because i think it deserves one, and I know not too many people on this site are fans.
Final words: great punk album. stick true to real punk. fast. gang vocals out the ass. good arrangement. good work on all istruments. hit it up if you're feeling a mowhawk/liberty spike craving