Old School Politics Gets Powerful Punk Support on Dead End America’s ‘Crush the Machine’
A standard criticism of modern music, the subject of a ton of bait articles, is, “Why aren’t there more protest songs?”
The answers vary, but the most crucial point is that political criticism covers an incredible amount of modern music. Anyone who seriously asks the question has to stop looking at MOR entities that pass for mainstream rock or hip-hop. Beyond the mainstream lurks the constant pace of hip-hop critiques of racial injustice, the grumbling of punk and hardcore against social inequality. This includes everything from Steven James Adams anti-hate song “Unit”, Lead the party of jewels against neoliberalism on “Oh dear”, and the instrumental complaints of Jessica Moss for a world in fusion with “Glaciers II”Glaciers II “.
Previously, news formats left enough space for music to colonize, but that gap has closed. Politics are everywhere now, and there are much more direct ways to make a statement than shoehorn an obtuse sentiment into eight bars and rhyming lines. Last month, everyone from Nicki Minaj to Kayne West, from Beyonce to Chance the Rapper, offered their support to Nigerian protesters against police brutality. Anyone who missed the similar avalanche related to Black Lives Matter must have been blind. By the same virtue, many rock groups have protested against the use of their music by the Trump campaign, or have spoken out in favor of Biden, or supported benefits, etc.
The internationalization of news is a problem. The old news media were relatively sparse, but now we are all shaken by a vastly expanding array of global issues. This can make emotional connection difficult or avoid feeling overwhelmed. Pussy Riot protested against the Russian Orthodox Church or the country’s misogyny. Molchat Doma commented on Lukashenko’s post-communist dictatorship. the Black Panther the soundtrack celebrates African talent. Sometimes, for white Anglo-Saxon audiences, the answer may be to go offline. The rankings from 1960 to 1990 were just as full of party flakes as they are now. The moment of protest music barely existed. There have been so many compilations of benefits and events in the 21st century that it has faded into the background, as moments of protest stood out for their rarity. And no one is calling for a cover of “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” From Band Aid (if they are, there were covers in 1989, 2004 and 2014).
People seem to be asking for larger brushstroke hymns, the kind of songs that feel unifying because they weren’t as precise as modern protests. While I love Rage Against the Machine – and admit that they were articulated on stage, on video, in their actions – it’s fair to say their music wasn’t specific. “Kiss my ass. I will not do what you tell me ”is a rallying cry for any place on the political spectrum. U2’s “Pride (In the Name of Love)” and “Sunday Bloody Sunday” were magnificent but referred to events ten years old: with this reasoning we have to pay homage to Hans Blix’s efforts in Iraq.
Faced with the vagueness of “Imagine”, “Anarchy in the UK”, “War (What Is It Good For)” or “What’s Going On” … People want their conscience to save sweet references that allow them to feel concerned with a cause, without having to commit or question in any way their lifestyle or their responsibilities. I’m sure the reason few songs protesting Trump or Brexit is because they would be mundane. There are now much more effective channels for politics and charity – like footballer Marcus Rashford’s efforts to ensure free school meals for British children. It is also difficult to find a musician near the charts who does not have a political position.
Still, if you’re in desperate need of details, Dead End America’s Crush the machine will relieve that pain. The cover doesn’t punch any punches: Trump’s face on the body of a snake, a living skull in flames, and a Dead End America “Department of Injustice” badge. The images fit perfectly into the lineage of late-era Prophets of Rage / Rage Against the Machine, with austere graphics and slightly cartoonish. Of course, it is undeniable that there has never been a more valid topic for punk hate mail than the selfish Mafia cabal who currently occupies the post of President and Cabinet of the United States.
Dead End America comes with a stellar lineup of punk talent: Steve Hanford of Poison Idea who sadly passed away this year; Mike IX Williams of Eyehategod; Nick Oliveri of Queens of the Stone Age and every other punk / metal hybrid of all time; Blaine Cook of Accüsed and Fartz; Tony Avila of World of Lies; Ian Watts of Ape Machine. How does politics require supergroups and other temporary alignments? There is a clear sense that some distance is needed from an individual’s “daily work” or that it would seem null and out of place in the midst of a group’s normal production.
The songs themselves are all one-and-a-half to two-minute straight blasts of pure hardcore. “Dead white hands” is a series of ten-second miniatures linked together in a start-stop sequence, after which the song gallops frantically towards the finish line. “Twitter Troll” is a remarkably complex virtuoso with an unlimited number of sudden instrumental twists: sudden lead guitar hits, drums failures, beating beats, climbing chords, all underpinning fun attacks on the head troll. The highlight of this brief EP is the Williams brow cut “Bullet for 45 (straight from a .45)”. Rip the powers of the guitar straight into Williams’ summon to “burn down the White House, take out the trash, murder Donny, take all his money.”
“Search for a reason” continues more or less in the same vein, everything is in full flight, sudden stops, a lot of barking in the throat. Then Werner Herzog appears, in his guise of “The Client” in the Disney Star wars series The Mandalorian: “Has the world been more peaceful since the revolution? I only see death and chaos. I would like to see the baby. In its original context, and here, the quote is a contrast of equally imperfect states: the relative disorder of the Republic against the demonic order of the Empire, then the destabilizing consequences of the rebellion. It artfully emphasizes the rationale for oppression, according to which it allows some to accumulate wealth and preserves peace for those who comply – all at the expense of those who do not.
It’s an intriguing closing note to clarify that voting for Joseph Biden and the Democrats is not ritual cleansing and a path to heaven. But if one is open to the idea that a freer and less corrupt reality is worth it, and we are all strong enough as individuals to face a more confused world where we can truly live the life we want rather than the one dictated to us. we… This is the time.