After The Fall – Eradication (album)
Even after years of listening to and reviewing music it’s great that there are still little things that can surprise or impress me – like just how much sound and intensity can come out of a three-piece lineup.
After The Fall (or Afterthefall?) hail from Albany in the state of New York, the capital city of that state – a fact which makes no sense to this non-American. Thus, I choose to believe that this example of political incoherence was the driving factor behind the band’s politicisation. Well, that or the rampant economic and social injustice that plagues the entire world, even the world’s richest, most culturally and militarily powerful country.
But this aside is a bit of a red herring, because on closer inspection After The Fall’s lyrics are more focused upon the personal political than larger, often abstract concepts. Take, for example, ‘Cents Less’: “Remember when you said ‘you have no fucking clue about this business?’ Well sorry to say I proved you wrong,where were your interests?” Break-up songs about collapsing record label relationships aren’t new but they are rare, and certainly a song that criticises ‘business values’ and lauds personal integrity and self-respect stands out.
There are still songs that deal with issues that extend beyond the singer’s direct experience, although as with ‘Irrational Behaviour’ these may still be framed through personal encounters, in this case seeing news reports about child abuse on TV or in papers. Others, like ‘Ruin’, are more traditional criticisms of the failures of “the land of the free” to live up to its own hype, promise or propaganda (depending on your perspective / historical literacy).
Musically most of the songs are built around lightning-fast but simple drumming, earnest and confrontational vocals that match the lyrical subject matter to a T, and strong melodies submerged beneath the speed and force of the guitar and bass. Periodically some lead guitar is thrown in to spice things up a little, but it’s typically a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it affair – much like the album itself, which clocks 14 tracks in 25 minutes. The best reference points are contemporaries like Strike Anywhere and deceased outfits like Boysetsfire. The shadow of Propagandhi also hangs long and large over this album, with both the tight, competent and metal-tinged songwriting and the lyrical approaches aspiring to such heights.
The album as a whole is such a relentless assault that it quickly begins to blur together, which could be interpreted either as praise of its intensity or criticism of its lack of variety. There are standouts – ‘Authoritarians’ with its slower, cleaner guitar and more nostalgia vocal style; ‘Throg’s Neck’ with a particularly well-matched guitar melody and vocal line; ‘Stagnation’s squealing fret taps in the outro – but they’re scattered. Ultimately, whether or not you should give this album a punt depends on the extent to which you like your political hardcore fast, angry and loud, because Eradication definitely ticks all three boxes with panache.