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Propagandhi - Failed States Album Cover

Propagandhi - Failed States

Reviewed by
9.0
Propagandhi - Failed States
Record Label: Epitaph
Release Date: September 4, 2012
This review was written by an AP.net staff member.
Propagandhi never deluded itself into thinking that it was a serious name. The part 1984-esque, part Indian icon portmanteau was merely an off-the-cuff invention from a group of sixteen year olds. Starting with How to Clean Everything and Less Talk, More Rock, the theme of child's play ran the lyrical gamut from bare ferocity to side-splitters; Chris Hannah commanded the pulpit, telling patriotic blockheads to shove flags up their asses while inviting bomb-vested rendezvous to G7 "picnics". Those wit coated antics tapered off eventually, and a relatively more stoic behemoth kicked in by way of Death and Voivod.

What's even better is that while the potshots got curbed, the subject matter retained its socio-political posture and sensibility. Potemkin City Limits showcased a gloom driven introspect that had long been buried inside the former teenage McCarthyists, and the more focused, hard-rock weighted dementia Supporting Caste sweetened the flow of maturity, clinging to personability and risk-taking headbangers, as well as adapting to new axing personnel David "The Beaver" Guillas.

Failed States debuts second in line to a different adaptation process -- it is Propagandhi's first time being christened by a punk industry major, Epitaph Records. Some may groan as the word "sellout" purses their lips, but they are most likely hanging on to the days of John K. Samson. Failed States is not a sacrificial blunder, however. On the production front, it should be understood that the release was self-made, relying on the band's aptitude for metallic shrouds and downright beastly blares. Haunting its cover is a near-effigy, in standard Propagandhi reminder that the catastrophic playground we know as Earth is still alive and kicking.

There's a sense of whipping isolation to this album. Cocooned in delay and reverb, intro to "Note to Self" sparks the immediate visual of a flutist on a desolate mountain, while voices cascade around the chorus to give it a highly majestic/fantasy metal sound. The band's long internalized comfortability with dark 80s metal is expressed via Hannah's Hetfield-style "Uhn!", and even the song titles themselves have taken truer form to the transformation ("Devil's Creek", "Dark Matters").

"Rattan Cane" assumes momentary Bolt Thrower and then jumps into an immediate thrasher, calling to mind the more curtly paced, less sing-songy tunes of the Propagandhi archive ("Fuck The Border"). The skate-or-die rush "Hadron Collision" inspires a "wall of death the systemmm!" growl a la Philly punk veterans Rambo; "Duplicate Keys Icaro (An Interim Report)" experiments with spacey soundcapes; "Status Update" showcases praiseworthy licks in the shortest amount of time, as Hannah and the rest of the pack obey reality-defying speeds in flawless unison. But perhaps the most thoroughly composed effort on the album is the transphobia-wise "Cognitive Suicide", which is a melodic dreamcast of solo layering that allows drummer Jord Samolesky to dramatize with splashes and bassist Todd Kowalski to therapeutically guide: "Live your life. Don't apologize to the cowards of this world, they're a waste of time" right before a progressive kick off to hammer ons and wayward dive-bombs.

At this point, it is more than accurate to assume that Propagandhi's puny punk, insert-expletive-here turd joke days are over. Storyboarded with enough dramatic atmospherics, adventurous riffs, and old-age mysticism that could be patented for an epic fantasy play, Failed States convinces you to become the wiser human being Propagandhi have been reprimanding five albums prior. Being that Failed States is the band's best release to date, as far as they are concerned, this is only the beginning.

9/10

 
Displaying posts 1 - 15 of 33
07:35 AM on 09/04/12
#2
jasonisasleep
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man, this album is great. i never got into these guys for whatever reason (never gave them a chance) but i love this album. i have gone back to the last album, Supporting Caste and love it as well. i'll keep diving into their past, but it seems that these 2 might be their best. thoughts?
07:39 AM on 09/04/12
#3
Dre Okorley
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man, this album is great. i never got into these guys for whatever reason (never gave them a chance) but i love this album. i have gone back to the last album, Supporting Caste and love it as well. i'll keep diving into their past, but it seems that these 2 might be their best. thoughts?
This album is so ridiculoussssllly good. I fear that a lot of their longtime fans aren't willing to try it out because they're on Epitaph now. It's definitely their best record.
07:42 AM on 09/04/12
#4
jasonisasleep
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This album is so ridiculoussssllly good. I fear that a lot of their longtime fans aren't willing to try it out because they're on Epitaph now. It's definitely their best record.
i am far from a label snob, so this is actually the first record i heard from them. maybe that's for the best. i love the last album too, and i'm going to grab the 2 before that. funny that it used to be if a band jumped from epitaph to a major, they lost cred...now being on epitaph loses you punk rock credit. so silly.
07:47 AM on 09/04/12
#5
Dre Okorley
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i am far from a label snob, so this is actually the first record i heard from them. maybe that's for the best. i love the last album too, and i'm going to grab the 2 before that. funny that it used to be if a band jumped from epitaph to a major, they lost cred...now being on epitaph loses you punk rock credit. so silly.
Haha, it's a crazy reversal for sure, because more and more artists are self-releasing their music. That's great you'll be getting their other albums, it'll be worth it for the thought-provoking art alone. My favorite of theirs when I first listened to them was Today's Empire (mainly the song "Mate Ka").
07:57 AM on 09/04/12
#6
John Collins
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This album is so awesome. I'm in love with 'Status Update'.
08:06 AM on 09/04/12
#7
jasonisasleep
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Haha, it's crazy reversal for sure, because more and more artists are self-releasing their music. That's great you'll be getting their other albums, they'll be worth it for the thought-provoking art alone. My favorite of theirs when I first listened to them was Today's Empire (mainly the song "Mate Ka").
awesome, will let you know what i think after i listen to them. thanks for the great review!
08:43 AM on 09/04/12
#8
Grohl
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Really well written review. I haven't read one of yours in a while, but you got a lot better. I'm gonna have to pick this one up.
09:10 AM on 09/04/12
#9
Dre Okorley
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Really well written review. I haven't read one of yours in a while, but you got a lot better. I'm gonna have to pick this one up.
Thanks, Grohl!
09:41 AM on 09/04/12
Deborah Remus
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Good review, love this record. One of the better things to be recorded in Winnipeg for sure.

man, this album is great. i never got into these guys for whatever reason (never gave them a chance) but i love this album. i have gone back to the last album, Supporting Caste and love it as well. i'll keep diving into their past, but it seems that these 2 might be their best. thoughts?

Agreed with Dre, you should check out the others, even if the early ones aren't as heavy or technical as their last 2. I still really like Less Talk, More Rock and "Anchorless" in particular. John rerecorded that song for the Weakerthans, but I still prefer the punk version.
09:50 AM on 09/04/12
SmallFrailBoy
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This album is fucking glorious. Can't wait to grab the vinyl.
10:12 AM on 09/04/12
jasonisasleep
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Good review, love this record. One of the better things to be recorded in Winnipeg for sure.



Agreed with Dre, you should check out the others, even if the early ones aren't as heavy or technical as their last 2. I still really like Less Talk, More Rock and "Anchorless" in particular. John rerecorded that song for the Weakerthans, but I still prefer the punk version.
and again, i have no idea why i never really got into them. it seems like a logical choice since i am a huge fan of Boysetsfire and Strung Out, 2 bands that would work perfectly on tour with these guys.
11:00 AM on 09/04/12
crutchfield
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Id actually score this 10/10. Get out and see them on the tour. I havent had goosebumps from music in a long time until listening to this.
11:13 AM on 09/04/12
Dre Okorley
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Id actually score this 10/10. Get out and see them on the tour. I havent had goosebumps from music in a long time until listening to this.
I'd have given it a 10/10, but very few albums are rareified gold.
12:50 PM on 09/04/12
Drew Beringer
Senior Editor - @drewberinger - Locked Groove
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this album is so good. nice review, Dre!

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