Written by: PP on 18/11/2014 17:56:26

Though many longtime Lagwagon fans don't speak highly of 2005's "Resolve", I've always found that record to be among my favorites that the band has written thanks to its deeply personal lyrical content and darker melodies than usual attributed to the suicide of original drummer Derrick Plourde earlier that year. It sounded a little different from the usual skate punk melodies the band has been known for, albeit without sacrificing their core sound and, well, vocalist Joey Cape is always going to sound like Joey Cape, let's just put it that way. Nine years have passed since "Resolve" and the only blip we've seen on the Lagwagon radar has been the ironically titled EP "I Think My Older Brother used To Listen To Lagwagon" back in 2008, so you'd be forgiven to write the band off as a no longer relevant chapter both in the punk rock scene as well as the music scene at large.

Not so with eighth studio album "Hang", which showcases a band at the top of their game despite having been gone for almost a decade, and puts forth a strong argument for a top 5 finish on the best punk rock albums list this year. It once again presents a slightly modified interpretation of the 90s style Lagwagon style just as "Resolve" did nine years ago, this time doubling down on the heavy factor and bringing back the darker melodies from "Resolve" whilst retaining Joey Cape's knack for writing catchy vocal melodies in the process. Pop elements are few and far between as the band source from almost metallic riffage to deliver some of the hardest hitting Lagwagon material to date, but simultaneously make sure not to forget to make the songs sound anthemic, as the groovy and politically charged "The Cog In The Machine" so well demonstrates. Opening acoustic track "Burden Of Proof" leads directly in a beautiful manner into the fiercely anti-religious "Reign", which with its intellectual lyricism and irresistible chorus melody is a candidate for one of the best Lagwagon songs ever recorded. And that's a statement that can be used in connection with multiple songs on the record and not just one; "Made Of Broken Parts", "Burning Out In Style" and "Obsolete Absolute" (crazy bass lines here, by the way) are all brilliant examples of why Lagwagon is revered so highly in the punk rock circles.

Instrumentally, the record is aggressive and riff-based, with groovy leads meeting high-octane power chords that are shredded at almost thrash metal levels on a few occasions. It's easily the heaviest material the band has written to date, but at the same time you can hear hints of both "Blaze" and "Trashed"-era material in the mix as well. Lyrically, Joey Cape is again among the top guys in punk rock, delivering lines and passages that are pure poetry compared to the standard fare punk lyricism. Political and social commentary is thick both in between the lines and in explicit terms as we go through the album. And since these lyrics are also packed into great melodies, they underline why "Hang" is in the midst of a wave of critical acclaim for the time being. After all, who would've thought Lagwagon is capable of writing this brilliant of an album in 2014?

Download: Reign, Made Of Broken Parts, The Cog In The Machine, Burning Out In Style, Obsolete Absolute, Western Settlements
For the fans of: NOFX, Bad Religion
Listen: Facebook

Release date 28.10.2014
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