DOWN BY LAW: Champions at Heart: CD

Sometimes a band stays together long enough—where a new release exceeds all expectations, not only the band’s but the fans as well. This new record by this long-running rock band proves that in 2012, that is still possible. I could tell you how “New Song” has a slick Fugazi-like riff underneath it that propels the song to the end. Or how “Face Forward” is fast and furious. Maybe how the lyrics of “Knock This Town” pretty much knocked the wind out of me as I tried to finish this review—“this town can be a prison/but this town is my home/in the sea of sameness/I don’t feel like the rest/even if I want to fit in/I know I’ll fail the test.” Even that “Warriors United” tosses out some cool Big Country riffs with ease. I should also mention that sonically this gets an A+ as well. Bill Stevenson and Derek O’Brien know their stuff and can twiddle the knobs like no one else. I could talk about every song on this bad boy. But know that if you love melodic punk rock, then you need to own Champions at Heart. Put any pre-conceived notions you may have of DBL in the trash can and treat yourself to this one. I’m sure when Lemmy hears this, he will say, “Down By Law—they play rock and roll!”

 –koepenick (DC Jam)