Aging gracefully is not Agnostic Front’s style. They’re aging violently and clumsily. Since 1983, they’ve been churning out some of the angriest, violent, unrelenting hardcore punk, and their 12th studio album, Get Loud!, proudly carries on that tradition.
This album sounds great, and much like their last album, 2015’s The American Dream Died, the production is top-notch. The bass is heavy but still distinguishable in the mix. The guitars are tight and the tone is crisp, but not overly polished. The drums are an uncontainable monster, thundering through this album without dropping below 100bpms more than a handful of times. With a run-time of 30 minutes (the perfect length for any punk album of this caliber), this album flies by at breakneck speeds. Track 2, “Anti-Social” is a solid minute of crushing guitars buried beneath a mountain of blast beats and crashes. “Dead Silence” is a brutal maelstrom of chugging riffage and frenetic drumming. “AF Stomp” is the only instrumental on the album, and it showcases the band at their best. Even after a long and storied career spanning multiple decades, they haven’t lost any of their instrumental prowess.
Agnostic Front has never been the most articulate of hardcore punk bands, and even after several decades of honing their craft, their lyrics haven’t improved. Much like the music itself, the lyrics lack subtlety; unlike the music, it doesn’t work to their advantage. Track 12, “Attention,” reads like a bitter boomer screed, written in a frenzy after finding out that their kid wants to grow up to be a social media influencer.
Another lyrical precedent is that Agnostic Front really wants you to remember that they’re from New York City, specifically the east side, and how much it sucked. On the opening track, “Spray-Painted Walls,” they sing about “raising hell on the Lower East Side” during the “glory days of my life.” Track 6, “Urban Decay,” opens with a line about the “cesspool on the Lower East Side.” Almost every song on this album contains some reference to being in “the streets” and how dangerous they were.
Agnostic Front has always been overtly political, but very little of what they say is enlightening or insightful. Essentially, their lyrical content is the direct inverse of Jello Biafra’s. On track four, “Conquer and Divide,” they sing of “politicians and their empty promises” and how “the country’s run on greed.” The overarching theme of this song is how the ruling class pits the working class against itself, but they don’t go into depth regarding who is orchestrating these conflicts and to what ends. They don’t point the listener in any specific direction when it comes to channeling their frustrations. The ruling class in this song is some monolithic entity, pulling the strings and exacerbating superficial divisions among factions of the working class for no discernible reason than to sow discord. They don’t offer any solutions beyond a vague call to action (“break down the walls that they divide”). It all feels so disingenuous, little more than stereotypically anti-establishment punk rock posturing. If they were actually invested in fostering solidarity amongst the working class, they would stop performing “Public Assistance” at their shows.
At the end of the day, Get Loud! is an angry album for angry people. It’s doubtful that anyone is turning to Agnostic Front for political insight; they want a vicious and brutal listening experience, and this album delivers that on every track. There are no surprises to be found on this record, just pure unadulterated rage and frustration, delivered in the signature Agnostic Front fashion.