Pumpehuset, Copenhagen, DEN - 15/4
Written by: PP on 12/02/2017 19:36:59
We're still picking up on a few leftovers from 2016 that we failed to cover the first time around. Here's one about Dutch political punkers Antillectual, who have been steadily releasing tight, complex, and intellectually challenging punk rock albums since the mid-2000s. "ENGAGE!" is their fifth full-length; other than the songs having grown in ambition and reach ever so slightly, the band continues to deliver solid material that finds itself somewhere in between the likes of Propagandhi, Rise Against, and Authority Zero to name but a few likeminded peers.
One of the early highlights on the record is "Europe, This Is Your Final Countdown", which features Thomas Barnett of Strike Anywhere fame on guest vocals. It's political punk written in the best Propagandhi style from the intelligent lyricism to the big chant alongs that recall Rise Against in places. The guitar melodies are a far cry from your basic three chord punk, offering far more challenging chord progressions and depth than what is usually the case. Yes, it means the song structures are often slower than is the norm within punk, but the longevity reward makes up for that fact provided you're willing to invest enough time in letting the songs grow on you. And if you're not, bands in the vein of Propagandhi and The Shell Corporation are probably not up your alley anyway, to be honest.
Later on, Nathan Gray of Boysetsfire makes an appearance on "The Player & The Game" and draws a surprising parallel to the emotive, hardcore-rooted music of his band from Antillectual. It's the first time that yours truly makes the connection, but in retrospect, Boysetsfire's heavier soundscape otherwise plays with exactly the same elements as Antillectual does within the realm of punk rock.
That said, if you come into "ENGAGE!" expecting infectious sing-alongs and cheerful melodies, you're not going to find them. The slightly downcast atmosphere and constant sociopolitical critique guarantees as much. But if you're looking for a challange, or maybe just an argument that punk rock, too, can be complex and intelligent, then you're in the right place. Not their best (look for 2010's "Scratch The Surface" for the best melodies), but a solid one overall.
Download: Europe This Is Your Final Countdown, I Wrote This Song, From Hipster Kids To Hardliners
For the fans of: Propagandhi, The Shell Corporation, Rise Against, Authority Zero, Strike Anywhere, Satanic Surfers, Bad Religion
Release date 29.07.2016