I was dreading listening to this, as I can’t say I have a love for California punk.
If this is what passes for “melodic hardcore” in 1993, I don’t think I’m interested. This is musically nothing like most hardcore punk, as concessions have been made at every level:
- the songs are longer,
- the production is better,
- the guitars aren’t as abrasive or loud,
- and the vocals are way cleaner.
I know that’s the thing with melodic hardcore, but the hardcore seems to be missing here.
But if I assess it as California or “skate” punk I feel quite differently. I don’t like the genre, but I will say that these guys stand out for two reasons that I can hear:
First of all is the literacy of the lyrics. I have a weakness for intelligent lyrics, especially political ones. The lyrics here are definitely above average, even for political punk, and I kind of wish the lyric writers in a band that played better music.
But I will grant that the music is better than a lot of the other bands of this nature; it is ambitious for this kind of punk (that’s not saying much), incorporating musical ideas (a steel guitar!) from outside of the punk spectrum that occasionally adds some variety and spice to what is otherwise 14 (less bratty) California punk songs.
This is still not my thing and it’s not quite literate enough for me to overcome my distaste for these bands who just play the same damn thing over and over, but I’d rather listen to this than Pennywise or NOFX.
- “Recipe for Hate” Graffin 2:02
- “Kerosene” Gurewitz 2:41
- “American Jesus” Gurewitz, Graffin 3:17
- “Portrait of Authority” Graffin 2:44
- “Man With a Mission” Gurewitz 3:11
- “All Good Soldiers” Gurewitz 3:07
- “Watch it Die” Graffin 2:34
- “Struck a Nerve” Graffin 3:47
- “My Poor Friend Me” Graffin 2:42
- “Lookin’ in” Graffin 2:03
- “Don’t Pray on Me” Gurewitz 2:42
- “Modern Day Catastrophists” Graffin 2:46
- “Skyscraper” Gurewitz 3:15
- “Stealth” Bentley, Gurewitz, Schayer 0:42
- Greg Graffin – vocals
- Brett Gurewitz – guitar, backing vocals
- Greg Hetson – guitar
- Jay Bentley – bass guitar, backing vocals
- Bobby Schayer – drums
- Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam – guest vocals on “American Jesus” and “Watch It Die”
- Johnette Napolitano of Concrete Blonde – guest vocals on “Struck A Nerve”
- John Wahl – guitar on “Kerosene”
- Chris Bagarozzi – guitar on “Kerosene”
- Greg Leisz – Slide guitar on “Man With a Mission”
- Joe Peccerillo – Lead guitar on “All Good Soldiers”