Propagandhi
Failed States


4.5
superb

Review

by Mark Campbell USER (12 Reviews)
August 30th, 2012 | 163 replies | 18,009 views


Release Date: 2012 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Propagandhi’s most vicious offering yet and an easy contender for album of the year.

10 of 11 thought this review was well written

There’s few things people can be certain of in these troubling economic times, but if one thing is for sure, we know that every 3-4 years or so Propagandhi will release a kick-ass record. It’s pretty much just what they do. The band has been at it for the better part of 30 years, evolving beautifully from a snotty NOFX clone into a disgustingly-consistent juggernaut of incendiary punk, thrash and progressive that bring to mind 80’s thrash bands like Razor, Sacrifice and Voivod if they got to 3rd base with Rush and Bad Religion. To say that it would be difficult to top 2001’s Today’s Empires, Tomorrow’s Ashes or 2009’s Supporting Caste – universally acclaimed releases with few if any flaws – is an understatement. But yet with Failed States, Propagandhi may have done exactly that.

Throughout the record Propagandhi waste not a second, initiating Scorched Earth on your eardrums. It’s easily the heaviest, most unforgiving album the band has recorded yet, making even the hardest moments of TETA look merely cute by comparison. Nowhere is that more apparent than Todd-barked tracks “Rattan Cane” with its sludgy down-tuned riffage, ball-shaking shouts, and manic energy that threatens to twist your head off, or "Hadron Collision", a gunshot of hardcore fury punctuated with a superb solo. Chris-sung “Status Update” (first seen about a year ago in a practice space video) is a furious rager that squeezes more melody, energy and notes into in one minute than some thrash or punk bands do on a whole album, while the title track does it's job in encompassing the whole of the album sonically into a three-minute explosion of indignant rage, air-raid harmonized riffs and utterly badass bass lines.

Intro track “Note To Self” starts off with a tense build-up only to go into an alarmingly mid-tempo metal stomp, punctuated with dizzying time-changes and an expansive, progressively-influenced bridge/outro combo with a repeating palm-muted riff pinning it all down. It doesn’t really sound like anything they’ve done before, and it’s one of the album’s highlights. One of the more surprising qualities of the album is how Todd carries the majority of the more melodic moments of the album such as "Cognitive Suicide", which still manages to stick in a quickie burst of Slayer spaz, and "Dark Matters", a serious contender for one of the band's top songs with a lovely arpeggiated main riff and shout-along chorus, reminiscient of many moments on 2005's Potemkin City Limits. "Lotus Gait" starts with Chris singing in a lower register over a murky clean guitar before the full band comes in with one of their most urgent songs in memory. One of the album's finest moments is the bridge section that unexpectedly switches from militant punk fury to calm, clean strumming and quiet, proggy drum/bass jamming that really shows just how far these guys have come as musicians since their first two albums. Epic album closer "Duplicate Keys Icaro (An Interim Report)" is possibly the best track on the album, seeming to meld the best parts of Propagandhi's classic closers "Iteration" and "Purina Hall Of Fame" into one behemoth monster of a song.

Singer/guitarist Chris Hannah is in his finest form, churning out incredible levels of shred alongside David “The Beaver” Guillas in a harder, more complex refinement of their exceptional work on Supporting Caste. They’ve stepped it up even farther, putting melody and catchiness on the backburner for more of an aural assault of buzzsaw gallop riffs, flat-out shredding and abstract chord changes that threatens to inundate the listener but never fails to interest. If you thought Supporting Caste stepped up the guitar interplay for the band, you really haven't seen anything yet until you listen to Failed States. The rhythm section of Todd on bass and Jord on drums turn in their individual finest performances on this record, meeting a matching every twist and turn of the twin-guitar attack with on-a-dime precision and power. Basically, take everything they’ve done before, turn it up to 11 (maybe 20) and you have Failed States in a nutshell.

Where this succeeds in comparison to their prior records is that the album really flows exceptionally well. It doesn’t have as many obvious “holy crap best song ever” moments as much as Supporting Caste at first (again, due to the harder/heavier nature of the record), but a few listens is all it takes to realize that the band really has NEVER sounded this good. It blends the tasty riffage of TETA and Supporting Caste with the expansive, unconventional song structures and deliberate pace of Potemkin City Limits, and pulls it off pretty flawlessly. If a flaw can be attributed to it, it's that it's a much harder listen than their previous records since it's so relentless, although calmer moments pop up a lot more on the second, stronger half. And either way, any of the fans and holdouts of the How To Clean Everything and Less Talk, More Rock era (do they still exist?) are going to be more alienated than ever.

Failed States isn’t perfect. It’s not the greatest album ever, nor will it completely change your life. It’s just the absolute best punk/thrash/prog/no-one-fucking-cares-what-it-is release you will hear this year, and probably for a while after, at least until A Wilhelm Scream actually releases something this decade. It’s Propagandhi playing to their strengths and then some, and that’s all anybody wanted, really. Can't recommend this enough.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
JAXETA
August 30th 2012



741 Comments


you CAN type out "Album of the Year"

CaptainDooRight
August 30th 2012



26363 Comments


been seeing this around lately, is this highly recommended

Digging: Deniro Farrar - The Patriarch II

StrizzMatik
August 30th 2012



3158 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Rushed this out in like 15 minutes, I might make some edits/additions. Namely, that Duplicate Keys Icaro is MONSTROUSLY awesome and one of their best songs ever

Spec
August 30th 2012



26833 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Album is sounding really good but I don't want to listen to it more until my pre order comes.

Rikardur
August 30th 2012



731 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

First time listening to Propagandhi and I wasn't entirely impressed. Eh. It was solid fun though, hence the 3.5.

Spec
August 30th 2012



26833 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Supporting Caste is probably a better place to start.

PuddlesPuddles
August 30th 2012



4676 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Yeah Supporting Caste is better... this is oddly underwhelming now that I'm listening to it purposely

StrizzMatik
August 30th 2012



3158 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

As an album this is definitely more consistent. Supporting Caste had no flow song-to-song really, this album is a lot more unified in feel.

PuddlesPuddles
August 30th 2012



4676 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I definitely see that, but for Propagandhi I'm just not sure I'd sacrifice the explosiveness for a better flowing album. I seem to pull out individual songs from these guys anyway

StrizzMatik
August 30th 2012



3158 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Made some edits here and there. I hear you on that, but there ARE incredible individual songs on this album: Note To Self, title track, Rattan Cane, Status Update, Cognitive Suicide, Dark Matters (fuck, I gotta edit again this song is so good) and Dupilcate Keys all qualify as classic Propagandhi for me after listening to this album a bunch of times. It's definitely a grower more than the immediate nature and catchiness of Supporting Caste to me, but more rewarding a listen. And remember a good quality copy hasn't even surfaced yet, we're all listening to a stream/128kbps webrip.

As for a good place to start, I would go with TETA, Supporting Caste or Potemkin City Limits before this one, it's essentially a combination of all three sonically.

Scoot
August 30th 2012



17479 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

destroys but might lower later if the new aws is better

Digging: Acme - To Reduce the Choir to One Soloist

Hep Kat
August 30th 2012



13999 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

least fave prop album

Digging: Casanovas In Heat - Belvidere b/w Destiny St.

Hep Kat
August 30th 2012



13999 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

wait you called this progressive/thrash

neg

StrizzMatik
August 30th 2012



3158 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Because they meld progressive rock with thrash music silly. And that's a stupid reason to neg

Hep Kat
August 30th 2012



13999 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

did you write the description for this band or did you just read it?

either way that's fucking retarded

StrizzMatik
August 30th 2012



3158 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

I wrote it, and I think it's a fairly accurate description. What do YOU think they sound like?

Hep Kat
August 30th 2012



13999 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

strizz i am very disappointed in you you have been long enough to know that i will not stand for these injustices™

i mean i'm seriously

StrizzMatik
August 30th 2012



3158 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Again, what do they sound like other than not progressive thrash music. Hint: it's not punk rock. There's traces sure, and lyrically they have more in common with that style, but it's way too complex. Disdain for standard songwriting structures, intricate instrumental passages with off-beat time signatures and abstract melodies = progressive. Cut time/double-bass beats and gallop Maiden riffs = thrash.

johnnydeking29
August 30th 2012



8662 Comments


This is another album that I want to get but probs won't end up buying because of budget I liked what I heard from Supporting Caste

Digging: Naked City - Naked City

shanshanson
August 30th 2012



49 Comments


This band blows



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