Saw an interview with the singer of this band in a recent issue of Last Words, and he came across as totally genuine and totally on fire about the band and what they were trying to do. That same intensity translates onto this record; taking the foundations of melody that “melodic hardcore” bands like Boy Sets Fire laid down in the late ‘90s and expanding on it with a direct, furious, and hopeful political approach, New Winds comes across exactly as what they are: an über-serious Portuguese straightedge band. Song topics are broad, and the songs are, thankfully, diverse enough to be able to discern from each other—they’ve obviously worked on allowing every instrument to carry equal weight in these tunes. Not only that, they’ve thrown the entire “bass—drums—guitar” regiment out the window by occasionally including stuff like didgeridoo, cello, and sitar on a few of the tracks. There are moments where the vocals (again, think Boy Sets Fire) were a little too sweet for me, a little too sung, and I really could’ve done without the last tune’s overladen use of the aforementioned sitar, but as a whole, New Winds has put out an album full to the brim with a well-thought and pointed rage. There’s a distinct sense that every element of every song is there for a reason—this is not one of those records where the band made some minor mistakes in the studio but decided to just stick with the take anyway. To top it off, what they’ve done in lieu of including a lyric booklet is to include an entire fucking 170-page book, complete with song lyrics and lengthy explanations, as well as tons and tons of writings from contributors and pages of contact information and resources (web and print) that people can check out if they find something that strikes a chord with them. Projects like this are amazing to me—the layout is rock-solid, the care is evident, and they’re covering everything from profiling specific political prisoners to tackling the rough topic of Palestine, to straightedge as an individual choice, to punk being about resistance in one form or another rather than seeing who has the sweeter patch on their butt-flap. Have we heard it all before, in one form or another? Yeah, sure. Do we ever need to stop hearing about it? I don’t think so; we need to be reminded sometimes of what we’re capable of, as punks and as people. We need to work on constantly redefining ourselves and our intentions, and a package like this can undoubtedly serve as a catalyst to that for some people. And if the music isn’t entirely my bag (and while it’s definitely great for its genre, it’s not a type of music I’m particularly interested in), New Winds deserves an ardent “thank you” for investing so much effort into this release, and the label for having the willingness to put it out.