T.S.O.L. - TSOL/Weathered Statues (Cover Artwork)


TSOL/Weathered Statues (1997)


The first five tracks on this reissue of TSOL's pair of 1981 EPs are from their s/t debut, which are fast, energetic, angry, urgent, in a word – TIMELESS. Jack Grisham, Ron Emory, Mike Roche, and Todd Barnes (RIP) made some of the greatest incendiary political punk in their day. With songs like the classic anarchic anthem "Abolish Government/Silent Majority" – with its pleas to the masses to "wake up" and the socialist-leaning "Property Is Theft" – despite the clashing of ideologies, their displeasure of American government is so visceral, so articulate, it's almost tangible. The furious opener, the glorious "Superficial Love", features the greatest lyrics on the s/t EP: "But that's the American way; what it is to be free/If that's what they call freedom, it is not for me/President Reagan can shove it!", whilst on the last track of this EP, "World War III", Grisham ponders, "Where do I stand in this form of power?/Where do I sit in this government?"

Then it's on to the "Weathered Statues" side…what can be said? This is truly the masterpiece of the album. It opens with "Man and Machine", a fast-paced hardcore tune not unlike those found throughout the s/t EP, but after which, TSOL explore the darker, more goth side of their sound. One must look at these two EPs chronologically, as they sandwich TSOL's 1981 debut LP ‘Dance With Me', the finest piece of American punk – EVER – in this reviewer's mind. Now, this LP showcases the foursome's foray into the macabre, and fittingly, the first release following it, the "Weathered Statues" EP, follows in this dark vein. Likewise, the guys had pretty much forsaken their penchant for socio-political commentary after releasing their first EP.

The two standout compositions out of the four from the "Weathered Statues" EP are the title track, which is on a par with the frightening "Silent Scream" from ‘Dance With Me' and the penultimate track "Thoughts of Yesterday". On the former, though, for full effect, Jack's vocals are reminiscent of the legendary prince of darkness Vincent Price (!), as he sings of old soldiers who are forgotten and abandoned by those they saved ("Lonely men who are tortured, once proud but now forlorn/Gnarled hands hold canes, where guns once were before"), all enveloped in Emory's eerily winding guitars and a forboding bassline. "Thoughts of Yesterday" is quick-paced but still dark and full of poetical, depressing lyrics dealing with heartache and regret – undoubtedly the most affecting offering. Just take one of the final lines, "Watching, waiting silent there, children running as were my tears." Melodramatic and exaggerated, perhaps, but how wonderfully powerful it is! All this is accentuated by ethereal guitar work and a steady rhythm section.

The "Weathered Statues" EP ends with "Word Is", which is dominated by a ska vibe. Despite this more upbeat rhythm, the frustrated love themed lyrics are still gloomy, woe-is-me, and full of longing ("Look to my eyes, tell me what you see/I'm empty inside but a small part of me is listening to rumours and believeing lies/That part's always searching but it's never finding"). And after this release, TSOL would go in yet ANOTHER direction…for more on the ongoing saga of TSOL's ever-evolving sound, check out their second LP 1982's ‘Beneath The Shadows' for a real treat.