It always gives me pangs of doubt when I realize I'm not reviewing a hardcore record as much as a full on work of punishing metal. If Liberty Isn't Given, It Should Be Taken is one such album, and I fear my narrow punk-perspective criticisms won't do the band any justice. I'm likely wrong, but when I hear a vocalist growling "BORAHHHHH! ROAHHHHH! ROGHHA!" over machine-gun drumming, well, that's really all I hear. So I fully acknowledge there's some level of this I'm missing out on, and those of you of the metallic persuasion shouldn't hesitate to check this out.
While they're awash in the conventions of early to mid 90s thrash, Quebec City's Government's Fury Kills deliver a remarkably tight batch of songs. There's none of the macho guitar wankery, arty attempts at ambient gloom or ill placed melodic vocals that we've come to expect from bands of this cloth in recent years. So while the ingredients are familiar (a pair of blazing, tightly locked guitars, the rapid-fire double kicks, a heavy booming bass line) they're all put together in a very concise and filler-free manner. Brevity is a virtue in this genre, so it's nice to see a band writing a tight 30-minute record and not another overblown attempt at an opus. The moments that GFK does get experimental with their time signatures or instrumentation (as in "Todo Para Todos") are actually quite well done and do little to detract from the songs.
Now with titles like "The End Of Our Contribution To Modern Slavery," "Religious Icons Are The Creations Of Men" and "Direct Actions Is More Than Wearing A Che Guevara Shirt" it's quite evident we're deep in left field here. GFK's attacks seem to be focused on other leftists, and getting the armchair revolutionary onto the streets is their main goal. Not that I'm very far from the band's own place on the spectrum socially, but some of their lyrical targets seem a bit odd. For example, according to the crib-notes on their website, "Prison Of Life" rails against ageism in Western culture:
We have to consider the fact that even today, phenoma like the "teenage crisis" or menopause don't exist in many cultures. We think that we should stop this categorization because we kill the creativity and the imagination of the young by doing this. We have to abolish this pattern and give them a real opportunity to become emancipated in this society.
...ok. Not that I'm unfamiliar with these arguments but the jump between direct "get on the streets and fight Wal-Mart" style rallying cries and far more abstract meta-issues like this one give the distinct impression that we've passed far beyond the borders of tangible, accessible politics. I'm always worried when one needs supplemental literature to understand the point the band is trying to make. I'm not disagreeing with their observation, this issue in particular has a rich sociological debate behind it, but it really doesn't make a lick of sense in a three-minute metal song. Lyrics aren't a great medium for complex arguments at the best of times, and I fear some of the GFK's causes will leave people scratching their heads without the cheat-sheet on their website (of course, one might argue that when it's all indecipherable roaring it really doesn't matter what they're saying).
GFK quite aptly fills the void in the heavy-end of G7's roster that was left when Malefaction dissolved. As a work of metal/hardcore If Liberty... isn't doing anything particularly novel, but the band has avoided a lot of the trash that's so common to the genre nowadays. Despite my concerns with the band's lyrical approach this is a tight, aggressive disc that should easily please fans of the style.