On their debut full-length ‘Suppress & Restrain’ – the sophomore effort ‘Down And Out’ appeared in 2001 – Finland’s Wasted pack some highly energetic, aggressive, yet catchy streetpunk into fifteen charged tracks. The foursome’s riotous, straight-from-the-gutter sound is a fusion of late ‘70s/early ‘80s U.K. punk and American hardcore.
On an album that is dominated by fast-paced tempos, the absolute standout is the incomparable, slightly dark “Disconnected” with its conflicted sound and memorable intro that marks the LP’s slowest part as well as the most powerful. Other highlights are the rousing “Here, Now and Always”, “Passing Phase”, which features an excellent mid-song breakdown, and the mid-tempo “Let It Go (As Far As It Goes)”, where the rhythm section really stands out, especially around the two-minute mark, when the bass becomes the main focus.
On the lyrical front, with rather inarticulate, jumbled vocals, frontman Ville Ronkko conveys the bands views on society and politics as well as more personal matters. Their lyrics aren’t preachy, but rather more in an observant vein, as Ronkko sings about the things that he and his bandmates notice in the world around them. The basic conclusion they arrive at is that people’s obsession with wealth and power - “mankind’s quest for dominance and power to control” – is the main cause of oppression, war, greed, and most of society’s ills. In greater detail, they decry the evils of capitalism and people’s obsession with consumption – buying as much as possible while others suffer and die in poverty – as on “Disconnected”, where they blame America for “commercializing feelings and thought”, which leaves us “disconnected from the earth” and, instead, “connected to artificial happiness.” Another song dealing with the subject of greed is “Root of All Evil”, where the vocalist declares people are on “an endless search of prosperity and power,” and the end result of greed is war.
Meanwhile, the subject matter of “Pacified (By War)” pertains to the irony that in a quest for peace, we wage wars and drop bombs “to stop the killing.” The record’s opener, “Hatecrime”, deals with the prevalence of racism and violence in society, and also hints at police corruption. And the finale is brutal; “They Don’t Give a Fuck About You” – “they” meaning America – is a song for all you patriots out there, as the band associates our flag with “corruption,” “lies,” and “genocide.” But what Wasted sing, we know already, namely that to the U.S. government, we’re nothing – just numbers, faceless millions. I guess they’re referring to how America treats foreigners, being that they’re from Finland, singing about their plight, but it sure rings true for the average U.S. citizen as well. Who knows; maybe they’re referring to humankind in general…
In any case, some songs that deal more with the human psyche and are more inward-looking are the introspective “Let It Go”, which features troubled, disillusioned lyrics, the great “Passing Phase”, which has a message of staying true to yourself and advises the listener that if he/she fights for a cause, make sure he/she is sincere and that the cause itself is meaningful to himself/herself, while the title track’s message is that the easy way to get along in society is to not question, to merely do what’s expected of you, to conform, and to essentially “play the role you were given.” But what kind of life is that?
Overall, a good record. Fans of hard-hitting streetpunk should check Wasted out. A little ramshackle, production quality’s a little shoddy, but that’s what it’s all about.