Short story even shorter: Career Soldiers first came to my attention reading the November 2007 online issue of Distorted Magazine, where they were featured in a three-page interview spot. Outside of lauding Lynyrd Skynyrd (barf), the band came off as intelligent, humble and with a broad perspective, acknowledging the falloff in street punk and the waning interest in their own genre. A couple weeks later I found myself on Downloadpunk.com and tested my instincts on a band I'd never heard before.
After first listening to Loss of Words I was left unimpressed and wishing there was a refund button I could click. The more I listened, though, the more I realized this wasn't just another street punk band. First, musical intricacies began to emerge, like the running bass flares that stretch between chords in "Broken Record" and the classic rock guitar leads speckled throughout "No Regrets." However, the biggest eye-opener was finding the album's lyrics online and finally seeing how Career Soldiers are able to remain articulate even while spewing such rigorous dissent. It's really almost a shame Jake Coban's vocal approach is to scream nearly to the point of incomprehensibility, because listening while reading along with the lyrics makes the music far more appreciable than it is without understanding the words. It probably helps that the band is as influenced by Converge as they are the Unseen, indecipherable yowls in tow.
On the anti-war rallying cry "Loss of Words," Coban spends a healthy amount of time on pointed criticisms and realities before ending on a more elegiac note: "Our blood, their blood, it's just as red / Just or unjust, innocents are just as dead / We've seen it before and I'll tell you what's next / More pain, more lies, and more death." "We'll All Be Cured" begins with some impressive drumming -- incidentally by vocalist Coban who stood in behind the kit after the band's full-time drummer quit just before recording -- and goes on to take an interesting perspective about the pharmaceutical industry: "You've got a problem? Here's your prescription / Simple solutions for complicated afflictions / A facade of happiness that will sell / For anyone we can scapegoat but ourselves." The only real lyrical blooper on Loss of Words is the played out rant against religion on "Never Believe" that neither inspires nor resonates. In contrast, some of the more slogan-driven stuff like "Long Live the Underground" and "Fuck the World, Skateboarding's Better" get by on their fun and youthful idealism. And even when they're serious, like the forward-thinking title track, they don't bury the listener in guilt and weightiness: "Different players but the same game / Same script with different faces and names / The poor die while profits are gained / Real people suffer and are left with the pain / It's an endless war with no peace in sight / We always need an enemy and evil to fight / Rallying patriotism and silencing dissent / A flood of propaganda to forget our discontent."
Career Soldiers aren't breaking too much new ground on Loss of Words but they're importantly putting some substance back into a genre that was starting to look like a caricature. With Career Soldiers spreading their fire across the U.S. and Rebel Spell doing the same in Canada, there are new reasons to think positively about the future of street punk.