Useless ID - State Is Burning (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Useless ID

State Is Burning (2016)

Fat Wreck Chords

An overlooked album from 2016 is Useless ID’s State Is Burning. Admittedly, I got to it pretty late, but what I found was a great album filled with fantastic takes on melodic hardcore and pop-punk.

The album begins with two very quick, politically-themed tunes, “Land Of Idiocracy” and “Stop Watch.” Clocking in at just under one minute, “Land Of Idiocracy” blasts off with lead singer Yotam Ben Horin’s powerful yelling over a wall of blaring drums and hard-hitting guitars. During the later verses, there is some great use of guitar harmonics that he sings over as well. Towards the end, after a crazy-fast bass fill, the whole band’s singing gets a lot more melodic, complete with three-part harmonies, which cuts off with an abrupt end. “Stopwatch” somehow manages to go even harder than “Land Of Idiocracy.” Bass riffs fly all over place while one of guitar kicks out some wailing bends. The track follows some of the same aspects of “Land Of Idiocracy.” There’s lots of masterful yelling from Yotam Ben Horin, which eventually bleeds into some impressive three-part harmonies from the rest of the band after a brief bass-led breakdown.

“Genetic” is a really great example of Useless ID’s mastery of melodic hardcore as well. With a super-swift beat and very melodic, but measured vocals, it ends up being one of the major highlights of the album. Once again, the band shows off their three-part harmony skills, but this time they are sung over incredibly intricate guitar leads. “Genetic” breaks off into this choppy bridge where the band members hit some very high vocal notes that lead into a wah pedal-infused guitar solo.

“Night Shift” is where you start to hear some of the pop-punk on State Is Burning. The vocals are much softer and the lyrics aren’t nearly as confrontational. It’s a very catchy and power chord-heavy tune. Once again, the band’s awesome vocal harmonies make an appearance along with some quick bass fills that accent the instrumental parts.

“We Don’t Want The Airwaves” is where Useless ID’s pop-punk side shows up, too. Musically, it is a wonderful ode to the Ramones. Even lyrically Useless ID painstakingly wrote lyrics dedicated to the Ramones such as,“So when I leave home on a road to ruin/ To the end of the century/Here's to all the pleasant dreamers/Acid eaters, late '70s creatures.” And the band ends it with a shout out to the late Brandon Carlisle of Teenage Bottlerocket with the ending line, “Hey Brandon, are you hanging with the Ramones?”

If you haven’t heard State Is Burning yet it’s definitely worth giving it a shot. Sonically, it’s quite the rollercoaster in the best possible way. It’s the best work of Useless ID’s multi-decade career. 

You can listen to this album here.