At All Cost
It’s Time to Decide
outh is squandered on the young not because we’re prodigal or foolhardy, but because we’re mostly left-leaning. We march, we shout, we put on war paint and envision ourselves as this mighty and mightily underrepresented phalanx whose anger has become so patently overwhelming that even the powers that be fear our coming. The reality? The youth are a pusillanimous lot who sulk at the coalescence of power around those who fully play the game while we do so only when our interests arise. Isn’t it ironic that those who harbor the most antipathy towards the government know the least about it? Isn’t it pathetic that the youth, who have within them such fantastic possibility, would rather color banners than ballots? Isn’t it sad that the youth are more willing to bang their fists against the door rather than find the key to enter?
The figure on the front of At All Cost’s It’s Time to Decide already left me wanting. Missiles in one pocket, oil rig and smoke stack in the other, it stands diseased and possessed, stumbling out from the bank note in the background. On its chest is an agora with an American emblem that’s half-eaten and half-covered by a bandolier and in its left arm is a pole which would no doubt lead to a tattered American flag. So I eye this supposed political diorama, this representation of youthful ire, and actually said out loud:
Is this the best you can come up with?I mean, is it? Because that image already revealed worlds about what they had to say, a veritable mash of Marxist jibe and jokingly weak calls for insurrection filtered through thirteen songs of the same species. We know Metal can be angry. We know this. We know that the faster you play it, the harder you bang it, the louder you scream it, the more people are forced to listen, but don’t you also think that people have learned to look past the bark? Shit, this album parades as though it’s novel, thinking that not only will the Bolsheviks win in the States, but their victory song will be played with dropped-tuned guitars and vocoded vocals.
Can you make Metal smart? Can you, instead of speaking about how you want to, “…set the formula for a utopia, shattered dreams and bourgeoisie schemes leave classes to up-rise,” tell me exactly what that means? Because if Marx and Engels got it wrong, how do you plan on correcting their theoretical errors? Instead of saying, “its(sic) power to the people and 2 years of protested war makes this country’s dose something that’s lethal, this country’s voice is to be heard,” how about telling me exactly what two years of protest has really done? You’re mad? Well so am I, but what has that anger actually done?
This is the sort of soft, left-leaning pabulum which speaks of revolution in a noncommittal manner and isn’t worth anyone’s time. If it sounds like I’m eschewing discussion of the music itself, I’m not. The music merely piggybacks on the topics of discussion, offering vacuity in melody and rhythm as well as a laughably infantile ferocity matched by Max Cavalera or the late Darrell Abbott before they hit puberty. The chords and percussion are mired in an embarrassing lethargy and mixed equally low so as to form a blurry cudgel. Hey, this is about Outrage! Corruption! and Fascism! There’s no room for nuance or, you know, differentiation.
The band’s title is ironically emblematic of what they represent: something can’t be at all cost because that stipulates a single risk, a single penalty. No matter, that still begs the question as to what cost this band believes it incurs through It’s Time to Decide. I doubt it’s any serious reprobation by those they themselves condemn because they sure as hell aren’t listening. I doubt it’s any serious reprobation from Metal fans since the group’s brand is in no way abrasive. Unimaginative in its agenda and musicianship, It’s Time to Decide instead languishes in half-said words drawn from half-scribbled ideas, a scramble of theoretical vagaries that gels into an inchoate vision. In choosing to rail against the powers that be, the band forgets the final cost of having absolutely nothing to say.
Reviewed by: Ayo Jegede
Reviewed on: 2006-01-23