Propagandhi – Supporting Caste
Record Label: Smallman
Release Date: March 10, 2009
Ever since the addition of excellent bassist Todd Kowalski in place of so-so Weakerthans songster John Samson, Propagandhi has been unstoppable. Today’s Empires / Tomorrow’s Ashes and Potemkin City Limits were straight-to-the-point, concise statements with no room for improvement anywhere. In a time where 90% of punk bands could cut their album in half and I wouldn’t care, this is saying something.
Supporting Caste follows closely on the heels of the last two awesome albums, coming off as sort of a blend of the two. The mile-a-minute blastbeat and riff of “Incalculable Effects” recall Empires’s “Ordinary People Do Fucked Up Things” in all of its chaotic glory, while “This is Your Life” nods more towards Potemkins’s more straight-forward hardcore songs like “Impending Halfhead”. Neither one sounds like a rehash of past glories, either – only a familiar mood, perhaps.
As always with Propagandhi, specific fragments of songs/lyrics tend to stick around in your mind for hours, days, weeks – you’ll be singing along to bits that don’t even make sense as refrains, like “As the soldier’s inexplicably repel!” and “This incessant pressure for her to not defy!”, and you’ll be doing it long after the album is over. That’s how Propagandhi works – they jam long blocks of text into irresistible vocal lines, so that when you read the lyrics sheet you tend to say, “Oh! That’s what that is.”
There are occasional lighter moments here than on the last couple of releases, such as “Potemkin City Limits” and “Human(e) Meat (The Flensing of Sandor Katz)”. New guitarist and fourth member David “The Beaver” Guillas may be the key to this shift in influence, but maybe not. The listener is reminded of Less Talk, More Rock, where Propagandhi wasn’t quite as fire-and-brimstone musically.
Still, most of the CD is pretty pissed off. You can take the animal out of the wild, but you can’t take the pissed off out of the Propagandhi.
Supporting Caste packs all the thrills of Today’s Empires and Potemkin City Limits – it lives up to the high standard Propagandhi have set for their listeners, a standard most punk bands would crumble beneath. It’s an album that won’t just engage you: it’ll hang on to you, demanding to be the only album you listen to. These guys are incapable of any less.