Friday, October 1, 2010

Arson Anthem - Insecurity Notoriety (Album Review)

Arson Anthem - Insecurity Notoriety
Release date: October 12, 2010 (Housecore Records)

The first thing that came to mind while listening to Arson Anthem's debut full-length album is that all these so-called "metalcore" bands out there right now should be forced to sit down and listen to this album on a continuous loop for about a week. Calling Arson Anthem a metalcore band might seem like a misnomer, but only because the term has been bastardized by a bunch of 20-something emo kids in eyeliner and white belts. If metalcore, as the name implies, is supposed to be a hybrid of heavy metal and hardcore punk, then Arson Anthem do it better than pretty much any band out there right now.

This punk/metal "supergroup" came together in New Orleans in 2006. The band features Mike Williams (Eyehategod, Outlaw Order) on vocals, Phil Anselmo (Pantera, Down, Superjoint Ritual) on guitar, Hank Williams III on drums and Colin Yeo on bass and is signed to Anselmo's Housecore Records imprint. Surprisingly, the band sounds virtually nothing like any of the members' other projects. Mike Williams' vocal delivery, while still plenty abrasive, is a little more discernible than his guttural screeching in EHG. Anselmo has grown quite a bit as a guitarist since bootleg videos of the band's live shows started appearing on YouTube a few years ago. Hank III is actually returning to his roots on this album, having played drums in a number of punk bands in the '80s and '90s before embarking on his current country/metal career path. Yeo is the relative unknown of the group, but his driving bass lines mesh nicely with III's drumming to form a solid rhythm section.

Despite the band members' metal pedigrees, Insecurity Notoriety is, first and foremost, a hardcore punk record. There are nods to metal here and there, most noticeably on the occasions when the band slows things down a little, but those moments are rare. Arson Anthem specialize in short bursts of nihilistic rage, with only one of 17 songs - the album-closing "Teach the Gun (To Love the Bullet)" - exceeding the three-minute mark. For the most part, the band sticks to the classic hardcore template developed in the early- to mid-80s by bands like Minor Threat, Circle Jerks, Cryptic Slaughter and Dr. Know. If any of those names ring a bell, then you already know that this album is hard, fast, loud, aggressive, angry and chaotic. In other words, it's pretty much exactly what you would expect a "metalcore" album to sound like. Now if only the douchebags in girl jeans would catch on...

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