Rancid - ...Honor Is All We Know (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review


...Honor Is All We Know (2014)

Epitaph Records

Rancid's latest effort, ...Honor Is All We Know, is a declaration of the band's strengths spanning their long-running career. While the songs seperately celebrate the many aspects of Rancid's unique style, the record isn't the band's angriest or even their emotionally deepest; rather it sparks the question that supplies its own integrity -- why these songs were recorded and released under the Rancid moniker in the first place. After hearing the first five tracks it becomes clear that despite the recent side projects of Tim Armstrong, Matt Freeman and Lars Frederiksen, the founding members of Rancid had regrouped once again to play music together in continuation of the themes and techniques so recognizable in their songwriting.

"Back Where I Belong" opens up the record with a strong, honest tune about unity and home with Branden Steineckert killing it on drums alongside Freeman's bass and Frederiksen and Armstrong's guitar work. While "Raise Your Fist" outlines Rancid's iconic musical style with Armstong's gruff vocals (accompanied by Frederiksen in the breakdown), the song is a call-to-arms that is catchy but comes off as non-specific. "Collision Course" is a faster, more upfront track as the band plays in their comfort zone -- Armstrong yelping and growling in combination with Frederiksen's raspy shouting gives the song depth and personality; meanwhile Freeman is always busy on bass as he holds strong alongside their wailing guitar riffs and Steineckert's ceaselessly pounding drums.

"Evil's My Friend" instantly stands out because of Rancid's notability with creating their own style of ska -- Armstrong effortlessly barks along to the smooth groove -- and with added organ lines, the song will get you moving no matter how much you may not "like" the band. The album's title track, "Honor Is All You Know" shows Armstrong, Freeman, and Frederiksen each taking a turn at the vocals as they urge solidarity, forgiveness and respect to their listeners, alternating guitar riffs as drum and bass consistently support on point.

Though the album has its low points, there are more admirable tracks than lazy ones on the album. "In the Streets" is awesomely evocative of Rancid's sound on Let's Go- through the creation of a character -- "Christine with a wild grin" -- as she learns that "you ain't got nothin' when you're born to lose/all filled up with the pills and the booze/standing on the street corner singing the blues/the end of the world is the path you choose." Directly after is "Face Up," a boozy, trouble-in-mind party song that is both catchy and not-giving-a-fuck. "Already Dead" unleashes its energy so fast and lamenting it could be a Social Distortion song -- equipped with a sweet bass breakdown, beating drums, and shredding guitar between Frederiksen's howling and Armstrong's griping through lines depicting their tough guy attitude.

Though in recent years Armstrong, Frederiksen, and Freeman have done their own thing musically, there is a reason why the songs of ...Honor Is All We Know have been officially released from Rancid. 20 years later, there is still something powerful in that name, take it or leave it; Rancid may not be as angry as they used to be but they are as strong as ever -- they are still in touch with the recklessness, loneliness, insight and compassion of life as a punk rocker.