United Nations – Never Mind The Bombings, Here’s Your Six Figures
When United Nations dropped their self-titled effort a couple of years back, it literally happened right out of the blue. Here was this bombshell, this vitriolic slab of emo-violence that turned out to be much more than it initially led on. I’ve been a Thursday fan for longer than I can remember, so when a friend alerted me to a new project that involved Geoff Rickly, I jumped at the gut. I purchased a copy online and, suffice it to say, I was surprised. I expected this brutal cacophony of sludge and crust, and instead I got something analogous to Portraits of Past mating with Tragedy. It exploded through the speakers. My yearning for crust is nearly as insatiable as my praise for Thursday, and this was particularly refreshing; However, after a closer listen I noticed something beautiful amidst the impenetrable noise. Rickly’s vocals soared; Guitars would build up and fall apart, every note sprinkling like rain before firing off the burner like grease in a barbeque. The mix was pretty flat, but it didn’t matter because the aesthetic and message was sincere.
Here was a band pissed off, taking swings at our international leaders, the Wal-Mart Deathstar, and Dennis Lyxzén‘s failure to rally the troops in Refused. Better yet, the only known active member is Rickly: While it’s been assumed that Converge mainstay Ben Koller smashed the skins, no one’s true identity is known. The band sport Ronald Reagan masks, further hearkening back to the violent anti-everything of hardcore’s heyday in the 1980s. Head over to the band’s website and take a look at their Frequently Asked Questions section; take a look at any number of the band’s flyers. You’re going to see a sociopolitical message with a satiric spin, and this is truthfully the best one could hope for in a band that claims its central influences as Reversal of Man and Orchid, two artists I would say I fell in love with not just because of their chaotic music but also their lyrical aims and Frankfurt School aesthetics. Needless to say, United Nations have a lot on their chest and use music as their weapon of choice. Their media assault would make Chomsky proud.
It’s been a good long while since any new content’s been announced for these guys, but today saw J. Bannon and the Deathwish family throw this seven-inch EP again out of the blue. Without the slightest hint as to its release, the messageboards filled with news of a new UN outing, and I managed to scoop this up without having to wait through a preorder. Never Mind The Bombings, Here’s Your Six Figures is sure to stir up another shit-storm. The first and most obviously noticeable element of this package is its cover. UN had to chuck a lot of their original covers for their self-titled effort due to copyright infringement. The cover featured The Beatles’ famous Abbey Road cover reversed and with each Beatle in flames. This seven-incher lifts the origins of its namesake: Yes, that looks like a certain album by The Sex Pistols and no, I would not want it any other way.
Though this outing only features four tracks, these are the four best tracks United Nations have released yet. “Pity Animal” starts without a hitch, octave chords and blastbeats immediately jumping out from the stereo. The production is much crisper, the bass is fuller. It isn’t a sellout move, but a move that better captures a band that couldn’t be contained in a recording that worked for Tragedy. United Nations simply have too much up their sleeves to sacrifice their ideas to recording quality. Noticeably lengthier than a large portion of tracks on the Self-Titled release, “Pity Animal” crumbles, builds itself back up, and utilizes the quiet-loud aesthetic to a startling degree. Where many bands would have used such a track as a blueprint, UN change directions on “O You Bright & Risen Angels.” A parable of the questionability of Christianity, the song uses a melodic hardcore template that owes as much to Modern Life Is War as it does to Texas is the Reason. Seriously, listen closely. While the vocals are the same as they were the first time around, there is a whole lot more happening with the instrumentation. Additionally, Rickly and his counterpart (whomever that may be) are taking more risks with their trade-offs. When Rickly sings the title of the track, he could have a clapping section behind him. “Communication Letdown” is average. It features more of what categorized the band as such an intensive and enjoyable listen in the first place. The title track closes the record, and it returns to some of the motifs brought up in the first full-length: About a minute in it sounds similar to “The Shape of Punk That Never Came,” perhaps further lamenting the inability of Refused to move the masses.
Altogether, this is an excellent EP that will whet the appetites of fans and newcomers alike. Each track is strong, but there simply isn’t enough of a change here to warrant any drastic reassessment. If you’re a fan of punk or hardcore, you have to get on this if you haven’t already. This is essential stuff. I’m pretty sure it’ll sell out fast and go out of print with the best of the genre. Here’s to hoping the powers that be don’t censor this review like they’ve censored so many of this band’s webpages. Long live powerviolence.