Certain things in life, without fail, invoke a very refreshed feeling. Jumping into a cool lake on a hot summer day, an ice cold glass of lemonade, or smoking a good cigar while drinking a gin & tonic. I look forward to, and enjoy all of those things any time I'm needing a good bit of relaxation and refreshment. And on that token, what, of all things, is more refreshing than a new record from everyone's favorite punx uppers, the Casualties?
I submit there is nothing.
In all honesty, though, anyone aware of this band knows they've been writing the very same album every few years since the very inception of the band. It wasn't even slightly engaging or interesting when they first started, and I regret to inform you, that nothing has changed. The same trite and repetitive formulas are nothing now if not finely tuned, and while they would be a complimentary statement in regards to most other bands, in essence all that says about the Casualties is they've gotten better about being terrible. Those same gruff vocals, clichÃ© sing-alongs, and downright awful lyrics -- all found more prevalent on this album than ever before.
"System Failed Us Again," in a nutshell, encompasses everything this band could possibly hope to on an entire album -- in about three minutes time. That's all it takes to convey the entire scope and breadth of their musical abilities and thoughtless political rants. It's one thing to have an agenda, I actually wish that more bands did, but coming from such a baseless and reactionary standpoint is another thing entirely. Each and every song is about the hypothetical âline in the sand' being drawn between the "punx" and "the system."
The system failed us again, factory layoff, welfare checks / Who's to blame for the state we're in? The system failed us / Government housing, concentration camps, ghetto barriers separate each class / The system failed us, the system failed us againThat's the sort of repetitive aspect that ruins any potential momentum to be found in these songs. It's not all bleak, however, there are a few bright spots sporadically sprinkled throughout. The chord progressions in "No Solution - No Control" are hard and vigorous, which lends well to the style, and provides some real gusto and apparent conviction that was so sorely lacking in many similar instances. But too many songs fall into that very same trap. Quick bass intro, followed by the distortion, and then the tempo picks up, there's some shouted gang vocals, and then the order is repeated. Whether by habit or just lack of creative ability, the Casualties are the truest victims of their very own devices.
There's eloquent ways to talk about social struggle -- political rapper Immortal Technique does a terrific job of it. Take one listen to his "Poverty of Philosophy," and within those six minutes, he says more than this band has in their entire career.