American Steel - Rogue's March (Cover Artwork)

American Steel

Rogue's March (1999)


American Steel is one of the very few bands that helped reinvent the punk rock sound out of the skateboard/SoCal scene resurgence in the `90s. With their blending of the Bay Area punk scene (Samiam is one band I could hear in their sound) with that of older punk/hardcore like the Clash, folk music and Motown, they reinvented the genre into a new style heard in bands such as Against Me!, the Lawrence Arms, Dead to Me, Off with Their Heads and, dare I say, the Gaslight Anthem. They set the standard for so-called "beardcore" bands of the new millennium. Their 1999 release on Lookout! Records, Rogue's March, is the perfect example of where it all began.

Rogue's March is now a classic of the punk rock genre. Here you can hear the blending of the aforementioned musical stylings. They kick things off right away with a well-paced romper, "Loaded Gun." Here you get both punk and politics in a swift punch right off the bat. This song, the title track and "Insurrection Ave." are perfect examples of political punk with themes on violence, race and economy. They're delivered with a raw emotion through the vocals of Rory Henderson and Ryan Massey.

Of course, this isn't a political album throughout. You have a few songs with upbeat music and depressing lyrics such as "Got a Backbeat." The album gets even more emotional towards the end lyrically, especially with "There Could Be More" and "The Optimist." The album finishes with the appropriately titled closer "Parting Glass." Here, the culmination of everything heard throughout the album so far crashes together, making it one of the best final album tracks ever made.

Since then, American Steel has made three more albums, went through a breakup, another band, and finally back together again. They never went back to the sheer rawness of this album later on, but that doesn't mean they got worse. There is nothing else I can add to this review that I've already stated on this band's obvious greatness and influence on others, and how essential this album is to anybody in the punk community of today. I leave you with the last line of "Parting Glass": "Fill up the parting glass up off your ass. It's time to make what we have last. Good night I love you still. Turn off the lights the party's over."