Label: Black Star Foundation
Date: May 14th, 2022
I was wearing shorts when Have No Heroes came to visit my town, whereupon I got the CD that’s spinning as I write these lines. As I’m writing these lines, I’m also hugging a radiator for warmth. So, what took me so long!? Actually, it’s an “ancient curse” that has bit me in the ass more often than I care to admit. I was driven to picking up this release by an outstandingly powerful live show. Carrying the same power onto plastic is an impossibility for the majority of acts nowadays. Sure, these boys have it a bit easier, as they are performing music that largely depends on catchiness, rather than a deafening wall of sound, but still…
Namely, Have No Heroes are representatives of the globally acknowledged melodic, skate punk. Now, you all know what that means. If nothing else, you must’ve stumbled upon The Offspring at some point in your life. There was a time where you couldn’t throw a rock without hitting their fan. Have No Heroes, of course, have just about zero chance of getting their hands on millions of dollars. But not because The Offspring are that much better, creatively or any other way. Plus, our heroes (yes, I said heroes) steer clear of any notion of cheerful, pop melodies. Therefore, any sort of comparison with the famed Californians drowns out almost immediately.
Still, the music on “Letters to Nowhere” is as catchy as a common cold in December. Proven time and again, on “No Regrets”, “Divide and Conquer”, “Final Destination”, “Land of the Paradox”, “Youth”… All of them picture perfect for massive crowd gatherings around the lead microphone. Accompanied by driving rhythms and those oh-so-melodic guitars, Have No Heroes give you a task and a half not to have a bunch of heroes in themselves.
However, with all the glory, the second full length record by this quartet is as predictable as you might imagine it. No surprises emerge from creative experimentation or even the arrangements. All the songs follow along the same pattern but despite all that remain more than effective in the listeners’ ears. The only trouble to emerge from such “positioning” could be that those who had their share of melodic punk in its heyday may find this album way too “heard before”. To those people and others who claim that a genre has an expiration date, Have No Heroes send a clear message in “Funeral of the Genre”.
Then again, that song might be the rare example of thinking outside of the box, lyrically speaking. Others are dealing with the expected themes, though the band neatly avoids falling for too many clichés. Even more commanding if you know they are singing in English and it’s not their first language.
Which leads me to a couple of situations where Have No Heroes does show a personal initiative. Less of a surprise is the acoustic introduction to “We Spilled the Water” which turns into a frantic punk rocker. More so is its follower, closing the record.
Up to this place, I have avoided stating the country of origin for Have No Heroes. Not that it matters all too much since, yes, music (or its nominal quality) knows no boundaries. Also, the song “Divide and Conquer”, though probably dealing with human migration and prejudices towards immigrants, could be construed as the call for neglecting the manmade lines on the map. Yet, the quartet is coming from Latvia, which is not a place commonly known for having too many intense rock, punk or metal bands. In my case, Have No Heroes is the first punk band out of the country I’ve heard. I know a few extreme metal bands, though.
In any case, if you come to grips with the band’s origin, how about a song in their native language!? They’ve also done a song in Latvian on their debut record. There it was “What’s Wrong With Us” that became “Kas Ir Ar Mums”. On this occasion, they did “Funeral of the Genre” as “Žanra Bēres”. And you know what!? It sounds sort of cool! Naturally, I don’t know a word of the language, but the word “žanr” is written the same in Serbian.
Okay, I might be overreacting a bit here. Bands have been using languages other than English since forever. But hearing Latvian is not something you get to do every day.
Be that as it may, Have No Heroes have created a masterful piece of music and have a stage performance to match it. Turns out I was afraid in vain. There was absolutely no reason for it, in this particular case. Consider “Letters to Nowhere” recommended.