Goldfinger and I haven't really got along since their pop-punk animal rights protest Open Your Eyes. Most people were put off by their didactic tone, but it was their sheer ineloquence that aggravated me. Although their first two albums were nigh on perfect, frontman and lyricist John Feldmann suddenly seemed totally unable to write a sentiment about his melodramatic personal conflicts, let alone broach a sensitive topic like animal rights. Instead of inspiring, he came across as preachy, and I don't doubt many borderline vegetarians got out their bows and arrows and hit the woods out of pure spite after hearing that album.
Hello Destiny marks a supposed return to form for the band, taking influence from the style of their earlier work with the addition of original (and totally awesome) guitarist Charlie Paulson. This is evident on some songs, such as "Without Me" and "How Do You Do It," both of which are up there with anything else the band have in their catalogue. All the other songs on the first half of the album are highly capable, but still somehow lack the charm of early Goldfinger, which is a pity. The second half has its moments, but also highlights everything that went wrong with the band since Stomping Ground. Creatively, it's pretty barren, and lyrically, it's just atrocious. "Bury Me" is generally without any reason for admiration and although "Not Amused" tries to be aggressive, it is about as intimidating as having a cuddly toy hurled at you by a four-year-old. You just want to ruffle their hair and say it's long past their bedtime. Instead, I recommend Paulson's other band, Black President, for a slightly more spiteful attack on things that are corporate, instead of this 'the media are big bad men' nonsense. "Hand Jobs for Jesus" will never be as funny as they obviously thought it was in the studio, and when you realize there isn't really anything left on the album except a saccharine acoustic track about Feldmann's baby son, you feel a little short-changed. On the plus side, other reviewers have noted that this last song guarantees Feldman Jr. will be thoroughly bullied when he goes to school. Even this sweet-packed lunch of schadenfreude doesn't rescue the album from mediocrity.
Hello Destiny is not the Goldfinger we used to love, but it does have a few moments that remind us what they could be capable of. Mainly, I would condemn it for being under length as essentially you're buying maybe five cool (-ish) songs, then another six that should not even have been whispered about, let alone recorded. The problem is that even though Goldfinger have technically returned to their roots, their present still haunts them. For a lot of people, that is John Feldmann being a dick about animal rights. Again. This makes people uncomfortable for two reasons: Firstly, because he is so ineloquent when he shoves his views down your throat that even if you agree with him, you'll want to argue on principle. Secondly, because the fight for animal rights shows the main flaw in the punk spirit. It's all well and good moaning about the government and the media, but what if you imply that a fundamental aspect of life that you take for granted is actually evil -- an aspect that you actually take pleasure in and have no intention to alter. Like eating meat. Then things change from being revolutionary to intrusive and imposing.
If Goldfinger had maintained the standard of their music from the beginning and wrote more erudite attacks on the hypocrisy of your diet, then people would take a lot more notice. By failing at both, they become annoying on a whole new level. I want to be a fan of the band again, and I want to get up and fight for nature, but I'd rather barbecue an entire petting zoo than agree with John Feldmann. If this is their musical destiny, I'm sorry that they accept it so readily. If they knew their facts about animal rights, they'd know that medium rare is how you serve a delicious steak, not an ideology.