Listening to the new Boy Sets Fire album doesn’t feel like listening to the hardcore that I remember. It’s actually almost like listening to a Slipknot CD. Which is odd, because I thought hardcore was supposed to be this expansive and dangerous movement of political and social conscience. I guess I was wrong.
From the first track on After the Eulogy continues to give the listener nothing but more of the same cookie-cutter nonsense that hardcore has devolved into. Palm muted breakdowns, rapid speed rhythms and vocals that range between a Max Cavalera sound to a Joey Belladonna-esq sound. The music is more defined then hardcore used to be, making Boy Sets Fire nothing more then a pseudo-socially conscience metal band.
If being angry about the world’s social ills is what makes hardcore different from metal Boy Sets Fire is definitely the defining post. The title track and the albums intro starts off with a repetitious “No Justice, No Peace” chant track underlined by a popping snare roll. Its ever so brilliant bridge contains the simple word “Rise.” This line is the only distinguishable vocal in the song other then the ridiculous break down in the middle where singer Nathan Gray simply repeats the mantra “Where’s your anger? Where’s your fucking rage?” as if these initial emotions are enough impetus for political enlightenment and social change. While perhaps Boy Sets Fire lends it self for an introduction to something greater then “the scene” they often fail to offer any solution or even a sense of hope. The cliché breakdowns and sing along choruses don’t help much either as the band drowns in a horrible sea of formula. “My Life in the Knife Trade” confirms however that the only difference between hardcore and metal is in fact the uniforms of its participants. This wanna-be ballad is nothing but a slowed down version of each track on the album. It even has one of those Get Up Kids like endings with sweet, sweeping clean guitars to heavy pogo rock out schtick. It’s so ridiculous it’s almost funny. Unfortunately it’s just sad.
Guy Picciotto of Fugazi once said, “what happened with hardcore is that things become so ritualized [that] they’re no longer powerful.” The truth in this statement concerning this genre is unfortunately true. What started out as something that was suppose to challenge the system of the norm and be progressive has turned into nothing but rhetoric and backwards caps. Hardcore has become an excuse for violence amongst middle to upper class white boys in a controlled environment. It’s unfortunate that a band that was once as challenging as Boy Sets Fire has fallen victim to the corporate wheel that has spun a revolution into the ground.
We all know how critical it is to keep independent voices alive and strong on the Internet. Please consider a donation to support our work as independent cultural critics and historians. Your donation will help PopMatters stay viable through these changing and challenging times where costs have risen and advertising has dropped precipitously. We need your help to keep PopMatters strong and growing. Thank you.
// Notes from the Road
"Saul Williams played a free, powerful Summerstage show ahead of his appearance at Afropunk this weekend.READ the article