September 19, 2006
FUCKED UP [I]TRIUMPH OF LIFE[/I] REVIEW
I'll tell you stage dives make me feel more alive than coded messages in slowed down songs.
When seeing Gorilla Biscuits recently and hearing this line in “New Direction,” it seemed kind of strange for that particular show. This was because Fucked Up opened up, a band which funny enough has been accused of brainwashing, amongst other outlandish things. While their lyrics are a tad cryptic at times (no pseudo poetry, thanks), the music however is still a great backdrop for stage dives. I suppose this rare dichotomy is one reason the band is so polarizing.
On the A-side, this 7" contains the first single off the band's full-length debut. If you are somewhat familiar with Fucked Up’s output to this point, you might be taken a back by the length of the song (if you don't count/know their Looking for Gold 12" material). Clocking in at 6:02, for an average hardcore punk band this may seem like an eternity. Thankfully, these guys and girl aren’t your average breakdown-heavy moshcore band. The rhythm section helps move the song along at a medium fast pace throughout the whole six minutes that will have you wanting to slam, pogo and act a fool. Vocalist Pink Eyes barks out the lyrics like a drill sergeant, but you can actually understand him; he isn’t just an indiscernible bridge troll like some hardcore vocalists. While what the song actually means is a little hazy, the line "the war is like a symphony that rings through our lives / we dance together in a violence for a chance to survive" leads me to believe, in a way, this is telling of the strange sense of humour the band possesses. It was designed to be a kind of hardcore epic. When the song breaks down into the fist-pumping monotone chants of "triumph of life" and combines with the simple, instantly memorable guitar lines it reveals, perhaps, the true nature of the song: the monotonous cycle of life, violence and death set to a slam pit. While it took a bit to get into this song, it became very rewarding after repeated listens.
If the title song is a bit much for some, the non-album B-side throws older fans a bone. While “Neat Parts” doesn’t stick out as much to me individually, it keeps things to a brief two-minute length. This effectively contrasts “Triumph of Life” as well as cements the style the band is best known for. While the band draws influence from late `70s punk and early `80s hardcore, forget about 7 Seconds and Bad Brains -- they prefer to exploit the dark nature and wit from bands like MDC and Black Flag. The opening lines paint a dreary picture of society: "Empty words backed by empty symbols cover up empty promises obscure the whole truth, so I’ve tried I’ve tried to listen to empty slogans / they just fall on my left and deaf ear." Unlike “Triumph of Life,” they opt to use more of a real chorus on this song to add to the short catchy blast.
As a teaser 7-inch, Triumph of Life is a pretty successful piece. It acts as a bridge between, with something new leaning perhaps to the direction of the new full-length while providing something in an older style. If you are already a fan of the band this is worth picking up for the B-side. If you haven’t heard the band this will be a good intro to what the band is currently doing and what they have done in the past.
Alex P. Keaton
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