Political punk in a pandemic
Sick of the blatant racism, misogyny and corruption of global governments? Find oneself internally screaming at the chaos of the world’s political and social landscapes? If people are looking for an album to help them release some of their quarantine rage, Strike Anywhere’s Nightmares of the West might be able to help them out.
Inherently political, Strike Anywhere exists within an activist’s hellscape. From climate change, to government fraud, to the latest pandemic, this band exemplifies many of the current political situations in this flailing release of music. Unsurprisingly, Strike Anywhere gained much of their original notoriety in the early 2000’s with the release of the Tony Hawk skateboard video game, which featured several of the band’s songs. Notoriously cutting edge, and known for combining punk and grunge attitudes, Strike Anywhere has maintained their reputation as a political punk path-paver throughout the past two decades.
Nightmares of the West is Strike Anywhere’s first collection of new music to be released in 11 years. The band’s long hiatus ended with their signing to Pure Noise records. Strike Anywhere originates from Richmond, Virginia and consists of vocalist Thomas Barnett, guitarists Matt Smith and Mark Miller, bassist Garth Petrie and drummer Eric Kane.
A fairly short EP with a runtime of just over 20 minutes, Strike Anywhere’s style stays true to their early 2000’s roots. Overall, the EP sounds like an attempt at the quintessential take on punk in the modern era. Gritty bass, slashing guitar and piercing vocals compose much of Nightmares of the West’s runtime. Though the album isn’t necessarily a stand out, there are a few songs that catch the listener by surprise in one way or another.
The album’s opener, “Documentary” is a fairly stereotypical sounding punk tune, but where it lacks in originality, it makes up for in lyrical content and passion. The same can be said for “Dress the Wounds.” The song “The Bells” has to be one of the album’s stand-outs. With a more coherent and distinct guitar rhythm and rhapsodic vocals, “The Bells” is a catchier sing-along song. Ironically, the best song on the album is titled “Opener.” One has to wonder if Strike Anywhere anticipated this track’s worth in the eyes of the viewer. “Opener” is one of the project’s more complex cuts, with jolting drum beat and a very well thought out vocal melody that maps a coherent and hooking flow throughout the song. This song also shows the complicated and individual talents of this group of accomplished, mature musicians at their best.
This album might not be everyone’s cup of tea. One would probably recommend Nightmares of the West to a listener already fond of hardcore punk. Although, the EP might help any listener experiencing this hellish reality release some of their animosity toward our world.