Abolitionist - Bleeding Kansas EP (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick


Bleeding Kansas EP (2012)

Self Released

What makes Abolitionist a compelling listen is the way they evolve on each release. While their debut EP found them referencing Jawbreaker, their first LP saw them leaning in a more Spits/Dillinger Four territory. On Bleeding Kansas, the band keep the high points of their previous references, throw out the cliche parts, and add a post-punk tinge. The combination works and makes Bleeding Kansas the most Abolitionist-y Abolitionist release to date.

As the title track and "What we need is action" make clear, the band have expanded their sonic palette. Based around American post-punk guitar riffs, "Action" builds a herky rhythm that lumbers before snapping into a charging hardcore attack. Perhaps most impressive is the band's focus to sonic flavor. The guitar tone on this release somewhat resembles the sound of classic Ramones in that although the sound itself is simple, there is a bouquet of sound within the guitar strings. In the line of Johnny Ramone and Motorhead's dedication to classic guitar rock buzz, the band use a thick, but organic guitar sound to rock, but also to act as a foundation for the rest of the band. Likewise, the vocals retain the soulfulness of the earliest releases, but also the pop-punk/90s punk clean vocals of their first LP. The result is a particularly layered voice that is doubly powerful when the clean voice shouts out "It's true we murder you/steal you from your wife." Damn!

Where the release succeeds is song structure. Instead of setting up the same formula over and over, the band lean towards 90's post-punk a la Ink and Dagger and constantly shifts jagged riffs to give songs cohesion and distance.

Abolitionist have finally secured who they are. Luckily, that makes them both unique and relatable. For an EP about nasty murder, blood and war in the streets, this is a surprisingly rocking and enjoyable release. Have Abolitionist made war palatable or have we all become numb?