Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Life's been swell now I wanna Dystopia record

Finally, after literally YEARS of waiting, the newest, and sadly the last Dystopia album has arrived. For those of you even remotely into "hard" music, if you have not heard this band, you surely must think "hard" means Captain and Tennille. As for me, I have a long history with one of the first real punk bands that I ever heard.

I was in college, in Mississippi, knowing nothing about good music, and was excited to test out this new website I'd heard about called Napster. So I plugged my phone line into my clunky Toshiba Satellite, and sent that 14.4 baby into action. Now this was before the real controversy about piracy had begun, and the people involved already had some of my money. Don't even ask how, but I had been able to buy a live compilation from some label called "Slap a Ham Records," and was anxious to look up a few bands that had impressed me. In particular, I had been "wowed" by a live version of the song "Backstabber" by a band called Dystopia. Sure enough, I was able to find a few songs by them on Napster (I would later buy all of their records from Life is Abuse, which is what you should do as well...), and I was soon downloading a song called "Stress Builds Character." An hour or two was all it took to make the song mine. The beginning was this weird speech about some guy hating his life, and then suddenly he yells out "I DON'T EVEN LIKE MONEY, AND I'VE GOTTA WORK EVERYDAY JUST TO FEED MYSELF!!" It was gut wrenching, and I'd never heard any punk or metal song up to that point profess such anger towards the necessity of commerce. I would soon dive deep into all types of political punk, and continually seek harder and harder bands. Dystopia had totally hooked me, and they have been a very important band in my life since then.

Which brings me back to the point at hand, the very last Dystopia record. We'll cover the tangible aspects first, then get to the music.

This is by far the best cover artwork for one of their albums. It is an actually well done photo-collage starting across the top with cheering (and maniacal) people, hovering over a second layer of guns and missiles, with an AMAZING picture of Bush wielding an almost bloody looking chainsaw below their name. The vinyl is clear, and is joined by a very nicely done booklet insert. Like the cover, the booklet contains some great artwork, and photos, and includes the lyrics to all the songs.

Speaking of which, let's get to the music shall we. While this record may not be as hard hitting as their previous two full lengths, it is still a force to be reckoned with (and would easily destroy most other bands). In keeping with tradition, samples are heavily prevalent through out the album. Which is of course how the first track begins, with a long sample of some ever depressing sound bites until the song lands. It reminds me in a way, of the aforementioned "Stress Builds Character." Two things stand out as a whole on this release. One is that the songs are all slightly more minimal and dirgey, than ever most Dystopia fans are used to. The second is that the vocals are much more grim and brutal than anything the band has ever put out. Also, alot of the guitar work is much more riffy, technical, and catchy. All the songs on the first side string together to form one long crushing blow that ends in a final track of samples of very sad and demented people yelling about their horrible psychiatric treatments. Which absolutely sets the tone for side two, which comes out swinging. By far my favorite track "Illusion of Love" comes out swinging with the fastest, non-deathmetal, tempo Dystopia has ever played. After the first half, the rest of the track takes us back to that misanthropic dirge that will continue until the end of the album.

I just wanted to take a little time to talk about the lyrics here. Dystopia has never been known to pull a punch, but instead, in a crass and upfront way, have always gone right for the throat. Some previous lines that come to mind are,"Life's been swell now I want to die!," and "Fuck your son I hope he fucking dies!" Never missing a beat, this type of lyricism holds strong until the bitter end. Going a little out of order, on that favorite track of mine,"Illusion of Love," with gut wrenching intensity, Dino screams,"Jesus! Fuck your love!" Which is repeated many times throughout finally to be joined with "..And the USA!" The whole song is about Christian based US imperialism. Which is a perfect segue into the next song. "Number One Hypocrite" is a continuation of the US angst theme. God the lyrics in this song are great. A few of the better lines are,"If you want an SUV we'll have to kill some children, and you don't fucking care as long as you are not impaired!","The simple fact is this: You're the terrorist!," and the one I had to look up just to make sure I heard it correctly,"I'm a product of where my parents fucked!" Well, I could go on and on about the rest of the lyrics on this album ("Your fingerprints are human, and you are a piece of shit!"), but I'll leave that up to the future listeners to experience.

Needless to say, Dystopia is one of the most important bands in the modern punk scene, and this last release is a testament to that. They are a band that for many years has tackled topics such as depression, capitalism, suicide, racism, the military, life, work, and death with their own honest and brutal opinions. To learn more about Dystopia, you can check out their myspace page here, and their record label Life is Abuse, which is also where you can pick up a copy of this new album. However, good luck getting your hands on one. Only 3,000 have been made so far, and they are so swamped with orders, the entire label has had to put everything else on hold to deal with it. However, if you can get your hands on one, you should at all cost.

It is also worth noting that if you are a Dystopia fan, you should check out the other amazing band that Dino is in, Asunder

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