Out Live Death - Has the Past Taught Us Nothing? (Cover Artwork)

Out Live Death

Has the Past Taught Us Nothing? (2018)

State of mind recordings

Out Live Death offer up an eleven-song full length, Has the Past Taught Us Nothing?, on State of Mind Recordings that brims with political angst. The band has been typically political with earlier releases as well, but there is a singularly angry vibe on Has the Past Taught Us Nothing?. The cover art – a re-imagining of Mount Rushmore with Trump, Stalin, Mussolini, and Hitler – sets the undeniably polemic tone for the record itself. The intro track is an amalgamation of news clips and sound bites, and further presses that polemic vibe on the listener even before the music actually starts.

The sound that Out Live Death cultivates is very much of the traditional hardcore punk style. They do well in mixing the melodic sensibilities of West Coast punk with the more aggressive sound of New York hardcore. They don’t stray too far in either direction, which makes for a balanced stylistic output on Has the Past Taught Us Nothing?.

One of the record’s strongest tracks is “Profit Over Poison.” The opening guitar lead is well-placed and adds a strong dynamic to the song. And as the song pushes forward, it offers the horse-hopping verse riffs exemplary of the hardcore punk sound. And yet there is a nice octave/lead guitar track that gives the song a depth in melody and catchiness. All the while the vocal tempos complement the rhythms really well. The staccato delivery on this song, and throughout most of the record, gives the vocals a solid punching effect. This song in particular draws me back to a sound refined by Ensign or Sick of It All. There’s angst but it’s tempered by just enough melody to keep the less ‘aggro’ listener engaged.

Of all the political songs on the record, “We Will Not Rest” stands out here as particularly aimed at the current presidential administration. There’s a simplicity and structure to the lyrics that seem apt in hammering home their message. “NOW OUR TIME HAS COME. DESTROY WHAT YOU’VE BECOME. FUCK THE ALT-RIGHT, FUCK THE BIGOTS…YOUR TIME IS COMING TO AN END. WE’RE COMING FOR YOU. WE WONT REST” Indeed there is a minimalism here, but maybe that’s what’s needed when confronting the issues that Out Live Death focus on. The song itself is delivered with the speed and chugging riffs that seem very much procured from Epitaph-era Agnostic Front or Warzone.

Has the Past Taught Us Nothing? is a solid full-length release by any measure in the hardcore punk genre. It’s fast. It’s angry. It’s melodic enough. It gets the blood moving without tapping into the more Neanderthal aspects of that sound. And it’s undeniably political. And, yet, even if politics aren’t quite your thing in the punk arena, this record still has much to offer.