The Pist - is Risen (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

The Pist

is Risen (2023)


Here’s why the new PIST LP is so good- I believe them. The band is back with their first proper album in 29 years and, perhaps surprisingly, it’s as fiery as any of their other material-maybe more so. The charm of the album is how earnest it really is.

The band still kicks out hard slamming, sharp-edged punk that verges into hardcore while still retaining a certain catchiness (the band would probably shirk at this, but underneath all their loud noise and spiked riffs and screaming, these songs are pretty much pop… which I prefer). But moreover, they still have a youthful vitriol and hope. Most bands, when entering their fourth decade, retreat from a fiery position and settle for a more “mature,” world-weary approach. Not the Pist. Here the band is raging against political institutions, money problems, and even love life matters with all the vitriol, power, and excitement of a punk band just getting into the swing of things. And on the other side of things, maybe some veterans bands swing into “persona” where they sing about the “moderate left” without really having true fire under the lyrics. Not the Pist. At some points singer Al Pist purposefully jumps off the rhythm and goes into sheer ranting, Conflict-style, without heed for the musicality of his statement because he’s so charged up. There are also a few tracks where the band deviates from the expected. The closing track is about how great pets are (and the accompanying joy and sadness) and might even bring a tear to your eye- it's truly moving. I was strongly reminded of perhaps the greatest epitaph of all time, written in ancient Rome: "I am in tears, while carrying you to your last resting place as much as I rejoiced when bringing you home in my own hands fifteen years ago."

And this is supported by the strength of these tracks. The band kicks out mostly 90 second slammers, but they find a lot of room in that short timeframe. “Narcissist” start off in a hardcore charge before breaking down into a slow motion mosh kicker. “Cross the Line” seems to lumber like camel, speeding up and slowing down and speeding up and slowing down in an undulating attack before sliding into a post-punk buzz. Meanwhile, the band comments very specifically on police accountability and issues tactics on how to push back- the refrain is an instructive mantra: “am I being detained?” “Jim martin,” a highlight, finds the band having a little fun as they back the track up with a swinging Jerry Lee Lewis piano bounce.

Despite the band’s youthful vigor, they do wink at themselves here and there. “Risen” pulls Ronald Regan out of the grave and describes Republicans as zombie brain eaters, ‘80s style. (I’d argue that Trump and crew are waaay worse than Regan, mind you). But at any rate, the band has strategically captured the mad rush of youthful energy and positive mindset while guiding that energy with an experienced hand. Hey don’t sound world-weary. They don’t sound road-hardened. They don’t sound battered. They sound revved up and ready to rip… and pretty smart, too.