Review Summary: Could this be the start of a Aussie rock revolution? Perhaps not, but this is definately a stellar album from New Zealand/Aussie rockers Shihad.
Love is the New hate, the firth major studio release from New Zealand/Australian rockers Shihad is greatly considered as on of the finest 'return to the roots' of an Australian band for quite some time. After the confusion of the band changing their name to Pacifier for a period of time to coincide with a tour of the United States, the band suffered somewhat of a downward spiral in popularity, relating to their new sound, and especially their new name. The reason behind the name switch, according to front man Jon Toogood lies in the negative connotation towards words of a middle eastern sound, and apparently (according to music directors and record execs) Shihad sounded too many like Jihad.
Back to the album. Fans of Shihad's last offering were somewhat offended by this album when it first appeared on shelves early in the second quarter of 2005. The use of the f-bomb and occasionally worse language resulted in LITNH becoming another drink coaster for many less authentic fans. A more political taste is very evident on this track, with the subject of hegemonic relationships and the general political ass-kissing between the Australian government and the American government a subject of much distaste for the Shihad boys. However, for fans of the earlier albums, such as the self titled Shihad and Killjoy, the album was a hit, with its hard edged guitar distortion, driving drums from Tom and being constantly backed by Karl's very capable basslines.
Oh by the way... Shihad are:
Jon Toogood - vocals, guitar
Tom Larkin - drums and backing vocals
Karl Kippenberger - bass
Phil Knight - lead Guitar
The album stars with 'None of the Above,' a slow ballad for the masses, with Jon crooning about the death of a friend.
'...now it's funeral time again, one last time with your friends...'
Surprisingly powerful slow ballad for Shihad.
Secondly comes 'Empty Shell,' which delivers a pure wall of distorted sound and symbal bliss, reminiscent of past hits such as 'La La Land' and 'Ghost from the Past,' however, the verse contains a tuned down bass line and easy drumming and focuses on Jon's deliciously evil vocals.
Then we get a taste of politics, Shihad style, with 'Day Will Come,' the line that caused the most pain in Australia was a line that compared the Prime Minister of the time as 'The Little Hitler.' Now I'm not sure if it was merely alliteration or if Jonny is serious. Oh well. Its a top song with cool use of harmonics in the pre-verse. And the return of the drums, bass and vocals that i love from 'Bitter.'
The next song is one of the biggest from the album. All the Young Facists promised all that it's controversial name suggested. The opening line being
'...F*** the four walls that you're stuck with, F*** it! Yeah we got different opinions, well F*** it!..'
This is my favourite song from the album and I tell you fellow MXers, it is absolutely electric live. Screaming that opening line from the front of a sellout MSFest in Tasmania this year remains one of my concert highlights. Close to best song on the Album.
'The Saddest Song in the World' hit next, with a tuned down line the whole way through the song, and ballad like vocals from Jon. The drums and bass step back in this one to let the effect-driven guitar take the limelight. Not a bad song.
If you had started to mellow out, then 'Big Future' will shake you out of it plenty quick. The driving start hits with the screams of '...give us the enemy give us the enemy etc...' and beautiful chorus vocals, with backing melody offset by Jon's angry snarl. Lyrics relate to the current politcal climate (War in Iraq etc), but it's not American Idiot style thank Christ!
Another slower song in pace, but not in the narrative of the album, 'Shot in the Head' I like to think of as the tale of a soldier in the line, '...will I be missed by this beautiful world, frozen in time...' Good drums with the double handed hi-hat working well for the progressive sound. First song on the album that contains a recognisable solo as well.
Next up is 'Dark Times.' Not particularly my favourite song on the album, but it does continue with the sound of the album, with Jon's lyrics taking over the main sound, with a melodic guitar effect riff playing over an easy drum and bass line. Nice, but nothing nut hugging.
'Traitor' hits next, with sccentuated drums and the omnipresent Shihad overdrive on all instruments. It also features the coolest pre-chorus/chorus combination, with the '///you won't see me again! (bulldozer down your home!)...' leading into the chorus. One of the better songs on the album.
Ahhhh. Here's a step into the last album. 'Stop' sounds much like the songs 'Everything' and 'Run' from the past self titled release, Pacifier. This song is rather dull but the vocals are lovely.
Now we get angry again my friends. 'Alive' hits like a bandsaw to the perineum with its blatant use of the f and c-bombs, however, it is counteracted by a nice melodic chorus, with Jon showing his vocal range and all the guys providing a backup vocal. The bridge in this stands out, with a crescendo leading into a instrumental section going into '..I just need a break... I just need a break...' Then an all in solo riff on guitar and bass before finishing off with one more melodic chorus.
The closing song LITNH is 'Guts and the Glory,' another emotional ballad, where Jon's voice truly hits another level. Shihad have a lovely tendency to use all of their instruments in these ballads and somehow add an extra level of intensity to the sound. Although the drums and bass sit back, and the guitar backs up the vocals as it should, the song just seems to gel for me, and it is amongst my favourites on the album, and definately my favourite ballad.
Shihad have come out from that funny little group of islands and produced the finest peice of their genre of rock that has been seen for a long time. It's hard to find appropriate albums to relate it to, but it does remind me somewhat of early Silverchair for some reason...
Love is the new Hate is one of the finest albums released in Australia for some time. It covers a wide range of music with its spread of slow ballad and rough angry rock. It can be a barrage of hard rock barrelled at you like a Tiger Woods fairway drive, or it can be left on your doorstep in a little basket, albeit it with venomous fangs and an omnipresent middle finger raised.
Well Done Boys, 4.5/5
Guts and the Glory
All the Young Fascists
None of the Above