Articles of Faith - New Normal Catastrophe [12-inch] (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Articles of Faith

New Normal Catastrophe [12-inch] (2010)

Alternative Tentacles

While the beginning of the year saw the new legion of hardcore punk bands such as Ceremony and Fucked Up pushing the genre in interesting new directions, it seems that in response, the old dudes have stepped up their own game to assert their importance--if not dominance--over hardcore.

First, Keith Morris' OFF! played its first shows and tore up the stage. Now, Chicago legends Articles of Faith have reformed and have released the exciting New Normal Catastrophe EP.

Before the break-up of the original lineup in 1985, AoF wrestled together straight-up hardcore thrashers with post-punk textures. On this new five-song release, the band continues this trend. But, on this release, they make the interesting choice of making both their hardcore side and experimental side distinct from each other.

For instance, opener "With a Vengeance" floats in almost like a psychedelic jam session only to snap out into an old-school screamer, finally to revert back to the stranger pulse. Likewise, the band experiments with standard song harmony throughout the EP between passages of hardcore that made AoF stand out in the first place.

In contrast to the way the music flits between the nasty and the nice, it appears that the last 25 years has made vocalist Vic Bondi even angrier. His voice has become a harsh growl coated in barbwire that makes his admonitions even more forceful--throughout the EP, the group rails at how things like big oil, too much interconnectivity, and stupid reality television are making Americans more complacent than ever.

What makes the album stand out particularly is the clever wordplay throughout, such as when Bondi takes the traditional line "If I had a hammer...," and instead of listing things he'd build with the tool, he runs down a litany of things to smash.

Most interestingly, instead of simply lamenting the state of the world, the group seems to focus inward. At the end of the album, Bondi asks the titular Brother John in a combination of desperation and rage, "Are you sleeping?! Are you sleeping?!"

I don't think Brother John is the only person that he's telling to wake up, though...