Label: Phratry Records
This is a record that pulls no punches. Wisconsin’s Tyranny Is Tyranny are utterly unapologetic in their critiques of capitalism, as should be clear from the title of their latest album, The Rise Of Disaster Capitalism (taken from Naomi Klein’s book “The Shock Doctrine”). As this might indicate, this is a protest born of intelligent analysis, looking at the state and direction of the modern world and its systems that so ruthlessly undermine democracy and destroy the environment, before producing music as bleak as the conclusions reached. With a spacious yet crushing, unsettling atmosphere, The Rise Of Disaster Capitalism is a fitting soundtrack for our times. Yet to simply tag it as post-metal is to only tell half the story; there are a host of ideas at play here, skillfully and often subtly weaved in to the base sound to create something special.
The most obvious point of comparison is mid-era Neurosis; the whole of The Rise Of Disaster Capitalism is filled with the same spiritual and musical force as, say, A Sun That Never Sets. Yet Tyranny Is Tyranny don’t simply imitate Neurosis; there’s more than a hint of AmRep Records style noise rock to their sound, especially on “Kabuki Snuff Theater”, and even sparse post-punk at times. The subtle, restrained use of trumpet is also a surprising highlight, giving songs like “Pillar Of Cloud, Pillar Of Fire” and “Victory Will Defeat You” an extra sense of grace and poignancy that is incredibly effective. The way the band build up an atmosphere is something to behold, tapping in to that same power that the likes of early Mogwai used to, though the moments of release tend to be much more drawn-out, never quite giving in to full-on rage. Instead, the catharsis offered is much slower, coming over time rather than in an instant of destruction. Tyranny Is Tyranny are masters of the slow-burn, of knowing when to let something linger for added emotional power, and they exploit that ability ruthlessly. That islands of beauty exist in such a bleak musical sea only make their impact more powerful, the band making good use of contrasting atmospheres and musical emphasis.
As would be hoped for from a band with such a name and album title, the lyrical content does not disappoint. “What happens to a dream deferred?” asks opener “Or Does It Explode?” – “Does it wither, or does it explode?”; whilst references to prison-schools (during “Pillar Of Cloud, Pillar Of Fire”) and mongrel dogs being kicked dispel any doubts (if any existed) as to their political and social leanings, whilst also demonstrating that socio-political lyrics do not need to be handled in a blunt manner. As such, a clear line can be drawn between Tyranny Is Tyranny and records such as Panopticon (Isis) or The Beyond (Cult Of Luna) – sociopolitical commentaries handled with both lyrical and musical skill. It’s refreshing to hear a band setting out their beliefs unequivocally, without them falling in to the traps of sloganeering or making their statements become meaningless.
There’s no denying that The Rise Of Disaster Capitalism is a pretty heavy listen, in multiple senses of the word – Tyranny Is Tyranny aren’t creating music with their primary aim to provide entertainment. Instead, the elements of protest are of importance, and give the album an edge that many other bands playing similar music lack. It’s the kind of album that inspires both action and education, and as such, it has to be viewed as a success, both musically and socio-politically. That’s an all too rare achievement, and demonstrates that, as bleak as it is, The Rise Of Disaster Capitalism is a ray of hope in a world growing increasingly dark.
The Rise Of Disaster Capitalism can be streamed, downloaded, and purchased on CD and transparent blue vinyl (limited to 300 copies) via Bandcamp.