Victory Lap

Written by: PP on 27/12/2017 19:45:01

Punk is dead. Punk rock is too simple. These are among the most common critiques of the genre, so it's fortunate both arguments can be nullified with exhibit A: a new Propagandhi album. Since transforming their sublime skate punk to intelligent man's progressive punk on 2001's "Today's Empires, Tomorrow's Ashes", the band have released four awe-inspiring, exhilarating examples of the possibilities that exist within the genre without having to depart its confines in the slightest. Of those, only "Failed States" from five years ago is one that didn't quite feel like a masterpiece, but that could be just me as others have drenched the record in critical acclaim. Their seventh album, "Victory Lap", on the other hand, is comparable to the cult classic "Supporting Caste" from 2009, a display of sheer technical superiority wrapped in ultra-complex, progressive soundscapes that take the better part of ten plus listens to get your head around.

From the opening notes of the title track, it's clear that we're in signature-style Propagandhi realm. Complicated melodies are enshrined in a dark, almost brooding atmosphere of ripping technical riffage, complex chord progressions, and Chris Hannah's typically intense vocal delivery. The album continues with unconventional rhythms, unpredictable chord arrangements and riffs that twist and curl with shredding leads morphing into ultra-complex guitar segments that redefine technical wizardry within punk rock. Encompassing the whole package are Hannah's intellectual, fiercely political lyrics that are rich in sarcastic wit and societal insight. "Cop Out Of Frame", for instance, is an incredibly sharp and pointed commentary on police violence especially against the blacks, but it requires you to read between the lines to fully grasp the idea of the song.

And that's always been the appeal of Propagandhi: their political message is fiery and geared towards the intellectual mind. One that values critical thinking, healthy skepticism, and abstract thought, but one that is grounded in facts rather than beliefs. As such, "Victory Lap" like its predecessors is a grower, an album that won't reveal its true depth and magnificence in just a few listens. Instead, it rewards with longevity and insight those who spend enough time with the record.

Granted, the degree of difficulty and concentrated attention span required has always been an obstacle for some to thoroughly enjoy Propagandhi's music. But here, there are examples where the band meets those fans halfway. "Failed Imagineer", for instance, sees Propagandhi at their most melodic in recent memory, without abandoning their tight, hyper-aggressive instrumentation and Chris Hannah's fiery vocal delivery. It's (almost) a sing-along type of a track, which hasn't exactly been their forte for the past two decades. Similarly, "Adventures In Zoochosis", complete with excerpts from Trumps now-infamous build the wall - we have no choice campaign rallies, is a track most should be able to absorb right away. Awesome riffage and intense vocal melodies guarantee an easy entry point to the most complex band the genre has seen besides Morning Glory.

It's the balance between the ultra-complex and the slightly more approachable that makes "Victory Lap" a classic that we'll look back in awe in years to come. A clean production, which leaves edges intact and highlights the complex fretwork and rapidly shifting chord progressions, not to even mention the sublime percussion, ensures neither the vocals nor the instrumentals overpower the record, leaving plenty of room for Hannah's piercing sociopolitical commentary and the challenging instrumentation. Shove this record in the face of anyone who says punk is either dead, boring, simplistic or simply no longer fresh in 2017.

Download: Failed Imagineer, Adventures In Zoochosis, Cop Just Out Of Frame, Comply/Resist
For the fans of: Antillectual, Crusades, The Shell Corporation, A Wilhelm Scream, Rise Against, Morning Glory
Listen: Facebook

Release date 29.09.2017

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