Thieves and Leeches is the third full-length from Californian anarcho-punk outfit Against Empire, and the band’s first for seminal punk label Profane Existence. With seven tracks, which stretch out to a surprisingly epic 42 minutes, the album is comprised of ‘80s bare bones hardcore blended with a thick layer of crusty and metallic punk bile.
Kicking off with an ironic capitalism-extolling sample on “Thieves and Leeches”, Against Empire lays out its charges in a frank and furious manner. Short blasts of single-minded guttural fury hammer the band’s unruly message home on sub-two-minute tracks like “Deaf Leading the Blind” and “Dawn of the Century.” Longer more dynamic tunes such as “Wordsmiths” and “Angel Tears” show a more restrained sense of expressiveness, although they’re still veritable speed demons.
“Live for Yourself…” stands out—its 11 epic minutes starkly contrasting with the album’s brisker tunes. But the band has no problem filling the song with plenty of powerful parries and thrusts, sweeping aside concerns that its length might contradict the album’s rapid-fire pace. A very apt Crucifix cover also appears, securing Against Empire’s hardcore credentials. Not that there was any doubt about the validity or avidity of the group—its vitriolic odes more than realize its insubordinate spirit.
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