Propagandhi - Failed States (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review


Failed States (2012)

Epitaph Records

Ever since Potemkin City Limits (or even Today's Empires, Tomorrow's Ashes), Propagandhi has been moving further away from punk and into the murky, thrashing waters of metal. The progression has been a good look for the band and has resulted in some of their best music to date (see Supporting Caste). Failed States is the culmination of that movement: with their sixth album, the band is done fucking around. You are either on board or you can get the fuck off the train.

Tracks like "Note to Self," "Things I Like" and "Devil's Creek" really drive this point home. The dual guitars are fast and searing; the drums are pushed to a speed that almost defies logic. The group has never sounded tighter or more focused. Later on the album, "Duplicate Keys Icaro - an Interim Report" slows things down a bit, settling in to a mid-temp groove for a solid minute before blowing back out into speedy, metal-y riffing that comes as close to an anthem as this album gets. "Rattan Cain" similarly gets a lot of mileage out of allowing a little room to breathe.

If anything is holding the album back, it's that it's a little too forward, a little too driving. The band's past two records, which had just as much gnarly rocking, also offered some brief moments of levity or hookiness to break-up the buzz saws. Failed States has no interest in such departures or dalliances with melody and it suffers for it. The album's middle section tends to run together a bit, never really offering much of a break from the wall of rage that the record creates. It really could use a trip to the Sabbat, is what I'm saying.

Lyrically and musically, Propagandhi are as strong as they've ever been. One gets the sense listening to the band's recent work that they are finally starting to fulfill what they set out to do nearly 20 years ago. Failed States is a strong statement from a band that clearly has a great idea of what they want to do and where they want to go, regardless if the listener can stand to come along.

That's right, motherfuckers. I don't love this album. I like it a shit-load, but I don't love it. It's a great piece for the discography and I can't wait to see it live, but I don't love it. Come at me, bros.