The (International) Noise Conspiracy

The Cross Of My Calling

Written by: PP on 13/01/2009 22:29:10

Returning readers will have noticed my recent appraisal of the state of the Swedish punk rock scene and how it's returning back to its international status as a result of the last two or so years. One band and record that I missed last year, however, and am now making up on, is the first new album in four years by the left-wing political punk rockers The (International) Noise Conspiracy, featuring the ex-Refused mastermind Dennis Lyxzén on vocals, namely "The Cross of My Calling".

I've never counted The (I)nc among bands that I cared about (wrongly so considering their almost legendary status these days) but things have definitely changed with their fifth album. I went back and checked some old recordings by these guys, and hey, they are awesome too, they just lacked as great production as the one Rick Rubin has given them this time around. The band's still playing their signature medium-pace punk rock that's standing at the direct mid point between what I'd call a rock band and a melodic punk band, drawing equally much from each sound - a little bit similar to the latest Against Me! album. Example? A song like "Assassination Of Myself" is as explosive as a punk rock song as it is catchy as a mainstream rock song, demonstrating the band's strengths in one big nutshell. "Arm Yourself", another highlight from the record, sports some Against Me! tendencies in the form of interesting gypsy-punk rhythms, whereas "Child Of God" is happy just to stroll by as a regular, though still not formulaic feel-good rock song. "I Am The Dynamite"'s chugging bass-opening sounds so similar to Wolfmother that for a second there I thought Andrew Stockdale had teamed up with these guys, and as you can see, the record is a rather diverse one, although it's still quintessential The (I)nc from start to finish.

As always, the dudes are lyrically exceptional, their left-wing anti-capitalism content is especially timely now that we're in the midst of the financial crisis. Then again, these guys have been talking about the downfall of capitalism for about a decade now, so nothing new there. However, the fact that they're able to sing as critically as they do in "Washington Bullets" while still holding the tone and mood of the song cheerful--almost beachlike/surf rockish in fact--is what gets me excited about this release. What I'm talking about here is a clearly identifiable Sublime influence where just the ska-element has been removed. And then there's the drumming, which is close to being phenomenal, as the constant time-signature shifts would have most metal drummers thinking WTF.

In general, "The Cross Of My Calling" is pretty damn close to being a great album. Every track on the album is solid punk/rock hybrid with interesting songwriting and lyricism throughout. However, at the same time there are only a few real 'gems' here, "Assassination Of Myself" and "Dustbins Of History" being the most obvious examples. A couple more of these hard-hitters and this could've been a mammoth of a record, but even as it stands now, it's still something I'll definitely be coming back to from time to time... and if nothing else, it made me go back on the discography of these guys, and that's never a bad achievement for a new album.

Download: Assassination Of Myself, Dustbins Of History
For the fans of: Against Me!, Propagandhi, Refused, Bad Religion
Listen: Myspace

Release date 14.11.2008
Burning Heart

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