Label: Cursed Blessings Records
Date: May 17th, 2023
Givin’ up on the multicolored singles, are we?
Six EP’s in, these Canadians found their way to the first long player. It almost took them a full decade to get here, so there was no rush apparently. Then again, sharpening the knives for so long, the quartet deliver a full scale assault (Vitamin X reference very much intended). Seriously, Citizen Rage have rapidly climbed up my hardcore list of favorites, taking a couple of steps up with each track I’ve heard. And I only took their previous EP for review because one of the members was wearing a Black Pestilence t-shirt.
Anyway, this ten-songs-long collection of punches is a bit different to the mentioned EP. Musically, most of all. There are quite intriguing moments. Among others, I find “Harsh Reality” very bass laden. Unlike the predecessor, bass guitar shows up in all its glory and very often. Like the new version of “Fuck Your Face”, originally published on the debut EP. It starts as if taken from a nu metal song (thinking of Korn almost immediately) and works its way to intertwining with the remainder of instruments in a downright old school NYHC track. Its follow-up, “Breath (Rebel Spell)” seems like based around a bass riff, with guitars wrapping it for an enthusiastic Oi! punk shout out. I want tabs for it!
Other thing I noticed is a further turn from hardcore into crossover. Citizen Rage doesn’t leave the basics altogether, nor will they ever, but the ratio of pure hardcore punk towards thrash crossover is sliding towards the later. However, if you fear the bands sliding away from your favorite genre, there’s no reason to do so with Citizen Rage. Of course, you can always turn towards tracks like “What’s It to You” or “For Worse or Better”. Classic tunes, using classic tools to achieve what hardcore fans wanted from the early 1990’s onward.
However, take the opening riff from “Walls” and tell me you feel nothing! It’s the brilliant drive of thrash metal that paints the song in almost as many colors as there were on the band’s previous discography (check the discography and you’ll figure out my pointer). Basically, Citizen Rage use these nuances to make their tracks stand out. Particularly since their songs’ foundations are everything you might expect and are therefore predictable. Simple solution is to enrich them and so they did.
Of course, as I mentioned, these are not omnipresent solutions that will make all the songs stick out. However, the opening track (“What’s It to You”) has a neat and short guitar solo towards its end. The second on the album, “Given No Hope”, sounds like a greeting towards native inhabitants of the Americas and is, for the better part, comprised of tribal soundscape. “One Last Time” has a guest female vocal (sorry, I have no information who it is), but also a “whoa” chorus that runs through half the song giving it a somewhat eerie feeling. That’s one of the instances where I found the lack of lyrics a bit hampering.
Et cetera. Citizen Rage made it a task to try and make their songs exemplary. Successfully, I might add. This is half an hour of awesome hardcore punk with crossover influences. Even in parts when you get the feeling of “I’ve heard this all before”. It’s powerful, energetic and delivers what you need. What I need, anyway, since it still finds me jumping around my room.
Now, what I hate most of all is when hardcore or punk bands do not include lyrics. I’m sure they will be included in the release, once it’s out. However, they weren’t included in the digital promo package. At the moment of writing this review they are unavailable online. So, a massive aspect of punk movement is missing from this review. The singer is not perfectly discernible (which is not a minus for the band or release, don’t get me wrong) and I’m missing out on words out here. Judging from the titles, what I can collect from audition and the cover art, the topics are expected for a punk band. From social consciousness to the fake smiles of “Instagram family” on the front cover, Citizen Rage criticizes the world we are living in.
And yes, I’ve seen that the PR agency’s promo mail says that I can get lyrics upon special request. Seriously though? I need to specially request the lyrics? Aren’t those like really, really important in punk? So, we want to spread the message and whatnot…
But still, a great record!