Supporting Caste

Written by: PP on 11/03/2009 13:33:59

For those not in the know, Propagandhi play a brand of punk rock best dubbed as 'elite' punk rock; the band writes some of the most complex, intellectually challenging songs and lyrics out of all punk bands out there. They shift from technical delivery to straight forward riffing seamlessly, throwing in influences from thrash, hardcore and even pop punk to dazzle the listener with a raw, bombastic, politically charged package that really makes the listener think in the process. Bands like Rise Against, A Wilhelm Scream and Strike Anywhere have taken their cues from previous releases by these guys, and have since overtaken these guys in popularity, thanks to the fact that we're approaching the end of the decade and this is only the third Propagandhi album since we moved onto the new millennium (and fifth since their debut in 1993!). But as is always the case with this band, the wait was completely worth it, as "Supporting Caste" is every meaning of the word 'elite' and a certain candidate for the top10 list this year.

The album starts off with "Night Letters" and some introductory technical riffage leading up to a chaotic explosion of all instruments and some of the angriest, harshest vocals we've heard from the band since "Today's Empires, Tomorrow's Ashes". There's definitely more focus on the hardcore and punk side of things on this track than the lighter, more pop-oriented material on previous album "Potemkin City Limits", which is a repeating theme throughout the record, but nonetheless after a few repeat listens you'll find the track one of the catchiest on the disc, alongside with the A Wilhelm Scream-sounding riffage of "Tertium Non Datur" and the raw, breakneck hardcore of "Dear Coach's Corner" which then develops into a Rise Against-type tune, where spotlight is on fantastic lyrics and great vocal delivery. But who am I kidding? With enough listens, every track on "Supporting Caste" is monster catchy, they just require a much longer attention-span than your average pop punk bands do, and that's exactly why so many people love and praise Propagandhi. They don't assume you to like their music, they just play it with raw passion, dedication, and most importantly, the conviction of a band who's in it for the music, not for the fans or the business. Ideology is of course another important topic, as is heard on "Human(e) Meat (The Flensing Of Sandor Katz)"; the track starts out with the sound of some sort of manual saw grinding away on meat--presumably human to make a point--accompanied by painful screams. I'd be lying if I said the intro doesn't make me feel nauseous every time, but otherwise the track is among the best on the CD with memorable tag-lines like "Be careful what you wish for" and "I swear I did my best to ensure that his final moments were swift and free from fear".

The lightest track on the CD carries the same title as their previous album, "Potemkin City Limits". Chris's vocals are the cleanest here on the whole album, but even when he's not yelling with his typical half-clean half-screamed style, he still sounds pissed off and, yes, angry-as-fuck. There's also a short batch of old school hardcore in the vein of Sick Of It All on "This Is Your Life" and "Incalculable Effects" to recall the band's early 90s days, but mostly that stuff has been left aside in favour of the intense, solid riffing that dominates the entire album. Basically, "Supporting Caste" is aggressively tuned, intelligent punk rock based on riffs and more riffs with the occasional technical slaps to avoid monotonousness. Key words include things like solid, raw, passionate, urgency, immediacy when describing the sound of the album. Speaking of words, if you do listen to the record, pay close attention to the lyrical universe of Chris Hannah - it's one of the best, if not the best in the entire punk rock scene. To close off the review with a one liner: "Supporting Caste" is Propagandhi's best album this decade.

Download: Human(e) Meat (The Flensing Of Sandor Katz), Dear Coach's Corner, Night Letters
For the fans of: A Wilhelm Scream, Rise Against, Strike Anywhere
Listen: Myspace

Release date 10.03.2009
G7 Welcoming Committee Records

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