Hardcore Veterans Awake
Since 1986, Sick Of It All, the hardcore band by way of NYC, have created an eclectic discography of traditional and modern hardcore punk–Wake The Sleeping Dragon! is no exception.
“Inner Vision” starts out the album with this at first atmospheric arena rock sound but when the drums kick in, so does the track as a whole. The hardcore vocals of Lou Koller carry this track into a Have Heart, almost straight edge style of hardcore. “That Crazy White Boy Shit” carries this style into the next track. This is a quick album so the hits come quick and this song is one of them. It builds into a crazy breakdown about a minute in where the guitars’ continuous cycle slows down and the “crazy white boy shit” is really emphasized. Listeners can just imagine the slam dancing white boys at the gig practicing their… masculinity.
“Bull’s Anthem” is almost a Dropkick Murphy’s style song. It is meant to be sung around an Irish bar holding a pint in your hand–this isn’t necessarily meant to be a positive. Sometimes this comes off as, well overtly masculine as said before. It’s not for everyone, that is for sure.
The title track “Wake The Sleeping Dragon” does its job in encapsulating the album as a whole. It emphasizes living free, turning away from fear and rebelling against a regime–certainly a punk ethos and with the current political climate, it is no surprise the message that so many bands like Sick Of It All have tried to emphasize in albums post 2016 election.
“Beef Between Vegans” is an interesting one lyrically. It’s hard to tell if the song is about beefing vegans or more, a nation at each other’s throats in America. Lyrics like “That’s when you know we’re fucked and not meant to succeed / We’ll be united in our states of hostility” point to the latter. A humorous title that really emphasizes how confrontational this generation has been with each other, for better and for worse.
“Work the System” follows the political themes that Wake The Sleeping Dragon! has a whole. It talks of the inequalities between those dependant on welfare and the rich CEOs who experience the fruits of the working class. This album’s best trait is the lyricism during the political tracks. Koller’s lyrics bring about good political points, almost turning what could be democratic debate quotes into hardcore punk vocals–which can’t be an easy task.
This is a hardcore album, all in all. It has all the qualities: the fast power chords, the drums that don’t seem to stop and the political criticism. There is not too much variation between tracks if we’re being honest, and although it does its job perfectly as a hardcore punk album, it isn’t memorable by any stretch of the imagination.