Review Summary: Vegan, straight-edge, political hardcore with a metallic edge that should be considered essential.
Chokehold were a metallic hardcore band from Canada that, while only lasting about six years before breaking up, were a very established and influential act among the straight-edge/vegan hardcore scene. Their second album, Content with Dying
is easily their angriest and most passionate, which is really saying something; if there was one thing Chokehold never lacked, it's passion for what they did. You can agree or disagree with their standpoints, but you've got to respect a band that can put their message before their music and still come out with a near-classic.
Their messages aren't uncommon ones either. In fact, we still hear about these things riling people up today, such as religion and abortion, with the latter being discussed from a controversial, intensely pro-choice point of view in the song "Not A Solution", which was uncommon for the scene. Now, I'd be lying if I told you this band was comprised of excellent musicians, but that wouldn't be the point even if this album did put the music first. Hell, a good amount of time on the album is spent playing clips from an old Young Republicans Youth Choir record, which is basically a man discussing the negative points of America as the band goes on to counter his arguments in the next song. The musicianship is not the point, as this record is impressively simplistic. Keeping a mid-tempo throughout near the entire album, the band just plods and chugs along with some of the most made-for-headbanging riffs in the genre, best demonstrated in the opening track "Underneath".
As good as they are, they're turned a bit too low in the mix. The album in general could use a bit of a remastering job. Of course the production is very raw and suitable for this type of music, but it just feels hollow at some points, with a lack of low-end and the drums being turned up higher than they should be, even though they themselves are produced well and sound very tight. The guitar is what should be dominating the album, they're perfectly distorted and full of groove. Much more so than their previous effort, Prisoner of Hope
. The band has cut back on the amount of breakdowns and melody from that album, as well as made the vocals more discernible while keeping them just as intense as before. Vocalist Chris Galas delivers his politically charged lyrics in a nice clear shout sort of style. His voice couldn't be stronger, and the same can be said for his lyrics, like the ones on the track "Conditioned":
Does anybody care? Or are they too busy watching and learning? Glued to the t.v. while the rest of the world is burning
Just like the musicianship, simple yet powerful. They're awful blunt most of the time, best demonstrated at the end of "Religion on a Stick" with a scream of Your god is nothing more than a dollar sign! *** your god!"
but hey, it's what works best for them.
Content With Dying
isn't the most varied record, it's more or less the same kind of metal influenced, chuggy riffs through the whole thing, but the twenty-some minutes of music in the album doesn't give them enough time to get old. In fact, if anything there's not enough of them. Sadly this was their last full length before breaking up the next year, but this album remains one of the best in the genre, not to mention heaviest and most memorable. This is an essential addition to the collection of any 90s hardcore fans, and it shouldn't be overlooked by anyone interested in the genre.