Nostalgia for the 1980’s isn’t just for metalheads anymore. Featuring the all-star lineup of Mike Williams (Eyehategod), Phil Anselmo (Pantera), Collin Yeo, and Hank Williams III, hardcore punk band Arson Anthem returns with their first full-length album, Insecurity Notoriety.
On the surface, the album is a fine testament to the rage and disillusionment felt by bands like Black Flag and Minor Threat. Songs like “Foul Pride,” “More Than One War,” and “Polite Society Blacklist” grab you by the hair and slam your head against the wall, while “Kleptomania”, “Teach The Gun (To Love The Bullet),” and the title track merely slap you around a little. But dig a little deeper, and the repetitive nature of this take on the genre becomes apparent. Vocalist Mike Williams has only two settings: full blast, and fuller blast. Anselmo, on guitar in this ensemble, fires off raucous three-chord riffage punctuated with atonal bends and slides. And Hank III, on drums, demonstrates his best hardcore blasts and high-speed fills.
The production is what we’ve come to love about hardcore: zero overdubs, no click track, and a muddy midrange. The DIY attitude of punk is apparent here, as it’s obvious during the first listen that the band simply showed up to the studio, hit record, and let loose. You can hear the boys talking things over after each track ends and the guitar feeds back without fail. Tempos shift slightly during the songs, and in the faster passages, Hank III clearly loses control of the band, giving things that garage-punk shine. Frankly, if this album had been produced any further, it would be cause for alarm. This is exactly the right level of engineering.
Put simply, this is another hardcore punk album. It’s good, not bad, but not mind-blowing either. It would be nice if Anselmo were behind the microphone instead of the guitar, but this works too. Honestly, the notoriety of these musicians is why we’re all getting the record, right?