Sick of It All - Death to Tyrants (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Sick of It All

Death to Tyrants (2006)


Let's celebrate that we don't give a fuck!
You said it Lou.

Sick of It All has never given a fuck what people think. But not in an annoying way. More of a "let's make music we love for 2 decades and not give a shit what anyone says or thinks" way.

And that is exactly what Death to Tyrants exemplifies. A spirit of hardcore that has yet to be tainted, despite odds that would make the hardest of the hard turn soft (*cough* *cough* *H20*).

First, a major label outing that created some classic albums, but did not appease the radio-friendly masses. Now, their first outing since a peculiar affiliation with Fat Wreck Chords, Sick of It All are still doing just what they want: making aggressive music with insightful lyrics that can draw in almost any fan of punk or hardcore. And by peculiar I mean three AMAZING records that for one reason or another did not receive a fraction of the rightful respect and admiration they deserved. Call to Arms represented Sick of It All's approach to a brand of melodic hardcore that in many ways was ahead of its time. Yours Truly, which I will sternly declare the band's best work ever, created a severe rift between those who had stuck with the band for so many years and were unwilling to accept this progression towards melody, and those just finding their level of comfort with this abrasive, yet highly accessible brand of classic hardcore. Followed by Life on the Ropes, SOIA seemed like a band trying to recapture something that was never lost. It was almost like they were trying to prove "we're still hard, we can still kick your ass." I'd never doubt they could. But the melody was gone, and the record seemed forced.

Fast forward to the now. I don't think anyone knew what to expect. Some thought Fat was clearly responsible for changing SOIA to a poppy, watered-down hardcore outfit, then dropped them when sales didn't meet criteria. Furthest from the truth. Fact of the matter is, Sick of It All makes records they want to make. You either love them or you don't. Which brings me to actually discussing Death to Tyrants…

A rebirth. A flame rekindled. Use any metaphor you want, but it's back, and if you aren't careful, it'll kick your ass. For those that love the epic era of Scratch the Surface and Built to Last, but found the recent harmonies offered in later albums refreshing, this is your new favorite Sick of It All album.

The brutal opener, "Take the Night Off," sets the pace for an outing set to display the aggressiveness, the melody and the sincerity that so many have come to expect from these legends. With a breakneck tempo to start, Lou's incredible ability to scream through the speakers -- right into the listener's ear, the classic gang choruses, and breakdowns that make me proud to actually dig the breakdown -- the words "instant set list addition" come to mind.

Personally, the album's pinnacle comes during the "Preamble" instrumental that leads right into what has quickly become one of my favorite SOIA tunes ever, "Uprising Nation." Bouncy call-and-answer vocals, combined with thunderous bass-lines create a chaotic bliss that only a Sick of It All fan could love.

"Die Alone" sounds like it could easily been written during the Call to Arms sessions, with its harmonic delivery and well-timed choruses, again, another one that seems it could be right-at-home performed at any show. Which is where this wayward review has led me…

This is a testament to Sick of It All, who had always somewhat failed to display in their studio recordings. NOTHING has ever captured the ferocity of their live show. Until now. Every song you find yourself singing -- no, make that SHOUTING -- along to; as if you've been there in front of the stage pumping your fist for years.

Hardcore has always been about the live experience, and the kings of the genre have always seemed to falter when trying to match up to the high expectations they have given fans themselves. Death to Tyrants finally delivers the seemingly undeliverable.