PROPAGANDHI: Failed States: LP

Sep 19, 2013

It’s been said before that this band defies genre classification. Failed States further emphasizes this point. A seamless blend of punk, hardcore, and thrash, Propagandhi perfects what was begun on Potemkin City Limits and Supporting Caste: the melding of their early melodic punk origins with their even earlier thrash metal-worshipping youth. Failed States is as musically aggressive and progressive as the previous two records, but differs slightly in the more personal nature of the lyrics. Perhaps it’s the fact that the venerable Jesus H. Chris (Hannah) is now a father, perhaps it’s the sign of men reaching their forties, perhaps it’s one Canadian winter too many. No matter, songs like “Devil’s Creek” and “Things I Like” are two of the most direct, personal sets of lyrics this band has ever committed to tape. When you begin a song with “I like Kurt Russell as Captain Ron,” and you’re a much respected ultra-leftist political activist and songwriter, that line had better lead somewhere other than Municipal Waste style comedy-thrash (and that is not a dig on the Waste). And of course it does, giving the listener an intimate account of what makes him tick, all weaved into a flowing, heavy punk rock epic. Other songs like “Status Update,” the riffy sub-minute thrash-punk masterpiece, get back to hardcore basics: fast and loud. The usual Propagandhi humor and wit are deftly incorporated into these songs, be it a concise study of self (“Failed States”) or an autobiographical recounting of a bicycle accident as analogous to a particle accelerator (“Hadron Collision”). Failed States perfectly melds everything into cohesive, aggressive, urgent, heavy music with riffs and lyrics that only a band with Propagandhi’s pedigree and musical ambition could even attempt to write. This musically varied and deeply engaging effort just might be their best yet. And without a suitable name for this subgenre of heavy music, I propose that “crossover” be redefined, with this record as its flagship.

 –Chad Williams (Epitaph,