Review Summary: Keeping classic hard rock line alive and combining it with some serious social messages.
How many current acts that play good, ‘old’ hard rock or grunge or anything close to these can you name? Will fingers of one hand be enough? It seems all potential contenders have gone metal in some shape or form, hardcore punk on one end, or just pop with a few rock elements here and there on the other end.
On the evidence of his “Culture War” album, New York City’s Paul Maged, doesn’t mind some punk here and there. “Jeanie Is A Rockstar” with its title and riffs is surely a reference to the legendary Ramones. He doesn’t mind bringing in a more toned down recall of Bruce Springsteen (“When Dreams Don’t Come True”). But it is that (ax) grinding hard rock he prefers that dominates this album.
And from the title track he shows that he can really do it - guitar to the front, amps turned on at 11. But it is not just pure rockin’ noise Maged is after. He wants to bring back another somewhat forgotten form - the protest song. “Corruption, distraction, disruption’ goes one of the lines in the aptly named “Cult 45” and Maged keep on making social and political comments throughout the album. As he puts it, "Culture War is the price we pay. Power trip between love and hate.” No wonder he released this album on November 3, 2020.
He keeps the furnace hot somewhere until the mid-point of the album, and then he slowly shifts the gears toning down the guitar attack giving more room to his message. But, in the end, one thing remains on “Culture War” Paul Maged knows what he wants to say and how to go about it, bringing along some genres that might have undeservedly been given a second-row seat.