Born Against - Nine Patriotic Hymns For Children / Battle Hymns Of The Race War [reissue] (Cover Artwork)

Born Against

Nine Patriotic Hymns For Children / Battle Hymns Of The Race War [reissue] (1991)

Kill Rock Stars

One reason history is studied and analyzed is to prevent the repetition of mistakes. Born Against were the product of eight years of boot-to-mouth Reaganomics and a dangerously regressive conservative agenda in the judicial system. With the election of Vice President Bush Sr. and the looming Gulf War along with the explosion of punk into the mainstream with Nirvana meant punks had plenty to be pissed off about. History is repeating itself and depending on your sense of humor, Born Against is the luckiest band in the world. They should have become a relic and a mere timemarker for the feelings of the working class and youth at the time, but instead they've become one of the most relevant bands again today and in my opinion even more so than in the early nineties.

This Kill Rock Star reissue is the combination of the Veriform-released Nine Patriotic Hymns For Children and the 10 inch-only Battle Hymns Of The Race War. These 18 songs are some of the heaviest songs I've ever heard and are a creation of genuine anger; nothing is forced here. It's honestly refreshing in the cesspool of metalcore and hardcore bands cashing in today who have no real hardcore influences or knowledge of punk. The problems sung about still exist, and for the most part have gotten worse, and lyricist/vocalist Sam McPheeters holds nothing back. The lyrics are progressive as expected, but the real charm of McPheeters' writing comes in his versatility. His intelligence is prominent and he takes many roles and forms and uses satire and sarcasm to effectively get his point across. In "Test Pattern" he plays the role of a TV drone barely able to contain his excitement as he snarls in a lightening fast manner:

Not on ‘til ten but it's gonna be good, two niggers gonna beat each other raw. The New Season's just starting and we're sure you'll agree it's the best one yet!
Somehow with globalization and the spread of disposable culture through new mediums such as the Internet, songs like "Mount The Pavement" ridiculing "pre-fab culture" are all too poignant. Other topics covered include the spreading of racial divisions through conservative media (with McPheeters calling out Rush Limbaugh!), pro-choice, free speech, capital punishment, with the band even penning their own "Holiday In Cambodia" with "Poland;" eh, kinda… Anyways, the issues are fucking relevant nonetheless, written by a band that broke up ten years ago.

Punks sickened by the overly glossy and poppy production of bands vying for spots on commercial radio will be pleased to hear the production here is very raw and mostly guitar-driven, almost to the point of grating my ears. Like any good band, Adam Nathanson and Sam McPheeters are a formidable pair of guitarist-vocalist, up there with the best in history. The guitar playing seems to be a stepping stone between the muscled intensity of Greg Ginn and the mathy and complex spazz-outs of Frodus's Shelby Cinca. They weren't the most proficient musicians by any means, but there are enough key and rhythm changes and even some math to keep your attention for a seemingly short 41 minutes. The songs range from blistering fast, three-chord rockers to more varied, structured, slow headbangers, all equally intense and angry. Also, as a fair warning, there aren't any catchy choruses or too many memorable melodies. Each to his own. In the booklet, you also get some bizarre McPheeters artwork. He shows how really strange he is in the awesome bonus song at the end, which had me cracking up. This is also essential for any fan of Refused to see that Born Against were "fucking dead" long before the Swedish lads. To contradict the strong anti-capitalist stance of the band, I say, "buy buy buy!"