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United Nations - United Nations (Cover Artwork)

United Nations

United Nations: United NationsUnited Nations (2008)
Eyeball Records

Reviewer Rating: 4
User Rating:


Contributed by: colincolin
(others by this writer | submit your own)

I honestly did not expect this record to be good. Especially this good. Sure, one can tout Orchid as an influence as much as they please, but to be able to craft a fine example of actual screamo the way United Nations has while both wearing their influences on their collective sleeve while simult.
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I honestly did not expect this record to be good. Especially this good.

Sure, one can tout Orchid as an influence as much as they please, but to be able to craft a fine example of actual screamo the way United Nations has while both wearing their influences on their collective sleeve while simultaneously creating a sound their own is a substantial feat (especially in a genre where the idea is to fill every nook and cranny with as much noise as possible).

First, this album simply grabs you from the initial count. Very little time is wasted before vocalists Daryl Palumbo (Glassjaw) and Geoff Rickly (Thursday) alternate an assault of screams over a tempered myriad of crushing guitars and driving drumbeats. By the time I was done trying to figure out how these guys managed to craft this sound, the album was over. Like any great record, it ends before it can get tiresome and never wears out its welcome.

The fine line of noise versus music is walked perfectly, with the guitars being more than a force of sound, but holding an appreciation for melody and hooks; the introduction to "The Shape of Punk That Never Came" could be described as gruesome and addictive. The guitars know when to take charge ("Revolutions in Graphic Design") and when to just play off the vocals ("I Keep Living the Same Day").

And while the instruments provide a stellar sound, the real standouts here are Palumbo and Rickly. Their dueling vocals echo off one another perfectly, with Palumbo being a confrontation, a force, and Rickly being an echo, an army. "My Cold War" and "Model UN" hold fast the center of the record, with a stellar one-two combo as an example of how these two vocalists really can meld together well.

My one complaint about the vocals is I wish the lyrics were a bit better (also, for shame on Eyeball, the $20 price for the vinyl comes with no lyric sheet, so I'm relying on the internet for transcriptions here). The problem with trying to live up to the appeal of Orchid is that the band managed to craft such poetry into destruction that the words you scream do have to be top-notch, and sometimes this album doesn't pull through. The messages are always amazing, a staunch, wholly political record filled to the brim with everything wrong about living in modern America: the middle class guilt; the nightmare media; the government paranoia; the daily drudgery. I found Thursday's new album, Common Existence, to be far superior lyrically than this outing.

That all being said, most of the time I don't even care. The music is incredibly powerful, and when it counts, the lyrics come through; "We know how it feels / the sound of their laughter / the TV's cold glow / follows you home / to the room where you sleep, all alone" ("Filmed in Front of a Live Studio Audience"). Perhaps the standout of the album is the one-line "I Keep Living the Same Day," whose only lyric is the title, a simple yet astounding commentary on the awful repetition of lives strapped to jobs or mundane repetition. The artistic and sacrelige-inspired "Subliminal Testing" screams "I can see you in the shadows / I can see you when you sleep" played forward and "You'll never listen to this / won't you turn it back around?" when played in reverse. So, you know, get stoned and listen to this song.

From the second of guitar feedback before an onslaught of sound to the rather great trumpet solo to close out the album, United Nations manages to capture a feeling held properly and most recently by an act like Ampere. The United States is seemingly in short supply of bands who do this sort of thing right, without the bullshit hairstyles or the appearances on FUSE or the misogynistic lyrics. While Europe enjoys the likes of Daitro, Trainwreck and Sed Non Satiata, this revival of real screamo is a trend I wouldn't mind seeing reborn in America. Bands such as Kidcrash, L'Antietam and Cease Upon the Capitol are bringing the spotlight back, but until this sound of angst makes a full revival and there are more bands like this than you can spit at, don't discount this record because it says "Featuring members of Thursday."

Because Thursday, this isn't.

 

 
People who liked this also liked:
Thursday - Common ExistenceThursday - War All the TimeThursday - A City by the Light DividedThursday - Full CollapseThe Lawrence Arms - Buttsweat and Tears [7 inch]The Blood Brothers - Burn Piano Island, BurnThursday - Kill the House Lights [CD/DVD]Converge - Axe to FallBear Vs Shark - TerrorhawkRise Against - Revolutions Per Minute

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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
renaldo69 (May 28, 2015)

A rager

taylorcasu (September 1, 2009)

This is a great album. However, their self-labelling as "emo-powerviolence" I disagree with. Orchid played much faster hardcore punk that UN. With music that fast, however, the message is often lost.

I love the controversy this band has caused, they have really stired the pot both politically and satirically. What real hardcore punk should be.

deadxlast (August 6, 2009)

I submitted a review for this back in December... eh, whatever, apparently I suck that badly.

Great album, I've been listening to this consistently since I got it 8 months ago.

TeaEssAre (August 4, 2009)

LOLing at review mentioning misogynist lyrics, but not about Palumbo's.

also, i would like to get this. the only song i heard was on youtube and it was quite stellar.

score is for glassjaw AND thursday

CCSummers (August 3, 2009)

Geoff both sings and screams on this

lookbackandlaugh (August 3, 2009)

mikexdude: wait... you don't like Converge?

Also, the original album cover was much better than this, even though it was some sort of copyright bullshit. But this album is really good; much better in my opinion, than Thursday or Glassjaw.

But, I find it strange that the less screamed part wasn't Geoff, because it sounds an awful lot like him; maybe I haven't listened to Palumbo's spoken/sung parts enough?

friokir (August 2, 2009)

man, I'm really starting to dislike the term "wearing their influences on their sleeve". it's been in so many reviews already.

accidentprone88 (August 1, 2009)

Abbey Road-inspired artwork is sooo original.

inagreendase (August 1, 2009)

This album came out last year and was in my top 10.
I don't think it made any of the writers on Punknews's top 10 lists for 2008.

FOR SHAME!!!!


Trying to just get a legitimate physical copy of this was like pulling teeth. And I did the first fucking official interview with the band.

If the reviews editor wasn't sent one I doubt they were pushed much on anyone else on staff who cared enough (Aubin, Anchors).

LeightonESmith (August 1, 2009)

This album came out last year and was in my top 10.
I don't think it made any of the writers on Punknews's top 10 lists for 2008.

FOR SHAME!!!!

mikexdude (August 1, 2009)

This is realy fucking good. And like one said, I don't even like the member's previous bands.

CCSummers (August 1, 2009)

Live concert in DC, their first show, there was no Daryl. Geoff said ONSTAGE that he does no vocals in the band and that he did guitar for four tracks and helped co-write vocals. But if you think you know better, go for it.

chips (July 31, 2009)

did anyone else notice on "no sympathy for a sinking ship", the song just really abruptly ends without any sort of segue into the next song? random. Solid album though, I think geoff's clean vocals really compliment darryl's vox, without sounding cheesy like many band's clean/screamed vocal attempts.

conduit (July 31, 2009)

"Geoff does all the vocals on this album. Daryl plays guitar on four tracks and helped write some of the lyrics, but that's it. Regardless, awesome album. He should quit Thursday and do this full time."

Nope...Daryl is doing all the screaming parts on this album.. Geoff plays guitar and sings.

CCSummers (July 31, 2009)

Geoff does all the vocals on this album. Daryl plays guitar on four tracks and helped write some of the lyrics, but that's it. Regardless, awesome album. He should quit Thursday and do this full time.

Aubin (July 31, 2009)

I was pretty impressed with this too. It's a shame that most of the attention they got was due to conflicts about the name...

KorbenDallas (July 31, 2009)

I fucking love this album, and after this, the split with Envy, and Common Existence, Geoff can do no wrong in my eyes.

No Sympathy For a Sinking Ship is the real standout track for me.

overdefined (July 31, 2009)

I found this disappointing. The drums are also mixed way too low.

wearestillalive (July 31, 2009)

This album's great. But it still sounds a fair bit like Thursday.

insinceredave (July 31, 2009)

Good review, you've convinced me to pick it up

kingofsuck (July 31, 2009)

I've been listening to this quite a bit in the year or so since this came out. And I don't even like Glassjaw or Thursday.

Carlo_Cabinetti (July 31, 2009)

Is this badboy only on vinyl at the moment?

inagreendase (July 31, 2009)

Ugh, I still need to get this. Fucking music, man.

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