In prefacing this review, I want to make one thing absolutely clear: I have no Iowa pride. None. I’ve spent far too long in this cultural blackhole of the Midwest, and I already have my exit strategy in motion. Sure, I never fail to mention that Modern Life Is War were able to emerge on the national scene out of small-town Iowa whenever I bring them up, but that’s more out of sheer admiration than anything else. Prior to MLIW, Iowa’s musical claim to fame was a certain band of costume-wearing nü-metalheads that for reasons I will never understand, spread like wildfire across the world. And while I can’t speak for everyone, I am much more comfortable with Too Pure to Die repping the Hawkeye State than any band donned in coveralls with members named Clown.
Certainly referencing the Ramones’ 1984 effort Too Tough to Die and most likely (and somewhat ironically) the seminal Meat Puppets’ Too High to Die released a decade later, Too Pure to Die may just have one of the best names for a straight-edge band since Uniform Choice. Whether the band is actually still claiming straight-edge association is up for debate, though. New members have joined (that being one of the reasons this album was re-recorded with new vocalist Paul Zurlo) and the overall tone of Confidence and Consequence isn’t as direct as earlier work from We Are the Weapon. One of the latter mention’s best was a track called “Calloused,” whose harsh but humorous line of “I’d rather go home with this ‘X’ on the back of my hand than with you, you fucking tramp” left little doubt where the band stood.
On Confidence and Consequence however, the lyrics, sung in growls above the stomping open E-chords of mid-tempo hardcore, are far more ambiguous. The re-recording even leaves out the one song from the original with the album’s sole reference to Minor Threat and was replaced by an entirely new song. Don’t get me wrong -- by no means is there an obligation to sing about straight-edge to be a hardcore band, but when many of the lyrics consist of generic angst like "I'll watch you choke on your mistakes / Your regrets will follow with every step," it would be nice to know they stood for at least something. And if you’re really gonna continue on without the straight-edge themes, at least entrust the name to a band who will make proper use of it.
That’s not to say there aren’t times where loose wording doesn’t generate some connection, as in “Bad Luck” where Zurlo barks "If it wasn’t for bad luck / We wouldn’t have any luck at all," an admission many a poor punker can relate. “Dead to Me” was the third song of such a title to be released in 2007, joining Agnostic Front and Spoiler NYC, and hurls a plethora of chug-a-lug breakdowns that are surprisingly guilt free. Though the band does spend most of their time in mid-tempo riff speed, the second half of “All in a Day” cracks double-time for one of the album's most aggressive moments.
If you’re familiar with metallic hardcore contemporaries and predcessors alike (the Warriors, Throwdown and Buried Alive), Too Pure to Die won’t deviate from inclusion in such a list. And if you enjoy such artists, there’s no reason why you wouldn’t get a kick out of Confidence or Consequence, a predictable yet no less satisfactory hardcore effort from Iowa that may or may not go well with alcohol.