As we near the end of one of the best years in recent heavy music releases, I wanted to make sure I uncovered every important band or record to review that came across my greedy ears. Music is my life, but sometimes things try to interfere with my goal of reviewing as much tune-age as I possibly can. One album that almost slipped by me is the full length debut of ARSON ANTHEM. A bastard child made of hardcore, deathmetal, crust and doom; ARSON ANTHEM is an underground super-group of sorts. The band consists of Mike Williams on vocals (EYEHATEGOD/OUTLAW ORDER), Hank III on drums (ASSJACK/HANK III/SUPERJOINT RITUAL), Philip H. Anselmo on guitar (who needs no introduction), and their mutual friend Colin Yeo on bass.
Recorded at Nodferatu’s Lair at Phil’s house and released on his own Housecore label Insecurity Notoriety is a snarling, feral spin on old-school hardcore punk with cool twists and turns tossed in for good measure. Not claiming to be strictly punk like so many pretenders, but exuding the raw feelings and chaos of the music they cut their teeth on this album is true in spirit. Surely this group of talented guys could write music in several different styles of music and likely come away with gold. However, they really bottled the honest to goodness vibe of bands like BLACK FLAG, D.R.I., NEGATIVE APPROACH, POISON IDEA and MINOR THREAT and funneled it through their own deep mojo.
The songs are sharp bursts of furious anger and righteous dismay. Opening with the noisy and brusk “Naught”, it is everything I thought this album would be and it only lasted half a minute. And was an instrumental! Classic sounding punk guitars, trap-like snare sound and a decidedly on purpose lo-fi aesthetic.“Foul Pride” is next punctuated with fast riffs and Williams’ exasperated yelling. After a short, weird detour the song again pummels you dead. The end results are very impressive. “Isolation Militia” is unrelenting and harsh. The awesome gang vocals and intensity of the track reminded me of my favorite NYHC band ever, GORILLA BISCUITS. With most of the tracks coming in at under two minutes “More Than One War” is one of the longer tracks at just under three. The lyrics are a fairly collaborative effort between Phil and Mike. There a a bunch of really smart ones, but I must single out the HENRY ROLLINS-esque list-o-mania of “If You Heard This…”. Check out lyrics like “nicotine/gasoline/ ephedrine/submachine/thorazine/benzedrine/vaseline/libertine”. Awesome! Other standout cuts are the title track, “Crippled Life”, “Death of An Idiot”, “Co-Dependent and Busted” and the final, slow boil-over of “Teach The Gun (To Love The Bullet). Sometimes the wheel doesn’t need to be reinvented as much as it’s original design still demands your respect and honor. You may bow down now.