It’s impossible to listen to Kriegs Legion‘s new EP and not flash on the crew of bands which came before them who didn’t exactly typify hardcore or punk rock in any manner but did explode forth with a sound and vision all their own under those banners. Bands of this tradition included names like D.O.A., Cosmic Psychos, Negative Trend and Agnostic Front – a diverse crew to be sure, but each held a sound and mindset which bound them together as a community. And that exact same mindset is apparent from the moment The Anti-State War Machine EP’s title track opens its A-side and listeners will be left with no choice but to buckle in or run for cover after it starts moving.
There, everything listeners need to know about this four-song 7” EP is laid out clearly: lead singer Colonel Slanders barks out a series of orders (scan “Blasted and ground to red paste, their thiefdoms lay in ruins/ Revenge of the wreakers and kulaks that they once enslaved” for an example of how hard the band wants to shake its listeners) in a haggard rasp similar to that of Street Dogs’ Mike McColgan and Scott Sturgeon of Leftover Crack while guitarists Bill and Ed [note: last names in liner notes would be nice – my name’s Bill too and I’ve got an uncle named Ed, but neither of us played on this EP] arrange a caustic, post-punk give-and-take akin to Soundgarden’s pre-Badmotorfinger work while the rhythm section comprised of bassist Paul Sinn and drummer Chris Connolly simply present a speedy, needs-first platform upon which the rest of the band can rage.
The resulting strike is both undeniable and tempting; the hooks from this first blast sink in deep because the presentation is hard, fast and perfectly clean like a cut from a straight razor. “Resistance Is Fatal” – the second song on the A-side – keeps up the same kind of energy but, there, Bill’s rhythm guitar becomes a little more singular and chunky in much the same way Greg Ginn’s did early in the days of Black Flag while Ed breaks off the leash and flies into full-shred mode, throwing bits of speedy, metallic lead work into every available space in the song’s running. The result of that turn instantly adds a lot of depth to the first impression that Kriegs Legion left. After hearing “Resistance Is Fatal,” it’s obvious that the band is capable of being more than just an oompah-beating, perfectly formulaic hardcore band.
After the revised impression made by “Resistance Is Fatal,” The Anti-State War Machine‘s B-side just charges forth like a force of nature with its first song, “Monsters Under Your Bed.” In a similar manner to that of the EP’s title track, “Monsters…” just oozes vitriol for the political powers that be (scan “They play on the unknown, your worries, on your normal fears/ With illusions of solace and concern as if they really care”) and unloads them over a warhorse hardcore chord progression, but the point which really grabs listeners and holds them is the solo break.
Rather than just flying out every which way as he had on the A-side, Ed really just saws on a few notes to create a sense of unease in listeners and sonically sympathize with the anger in the song’s lyric sheet. Lots of bands have done this (or something comparable) before, of course, but it really rages and wins listeners effectively in the hands of Kriegs Legion here. After that, “While We Sleep” embodies the nature of an album cut (not so much a single) and shreds out to add some closure to the EP. While it isn’t the single best song, it serves its intended purpose in that it slams the door on the proceedings and leaves listeners feeling satisfied with the experience. Were there a better way to close this EP, I’m not sure what it could be, really.
So, pound-for-pound and all around, there’s really no other thing that listeners could ask for from The Anti-State War Machine, other than maybe wishing it could have been a full-length album. Each of the four songs align and fit together well, and don’t leave any gaping problems along its running, and it closes tightly in the end. That’s satisfying, and the fact that the music is pressed into blue-streaked, crimson vinyl as it is makes it look like a special piece, as eye-catching as the music is ear-catching. Because word is already out that it’s already on the way, all listeners can do now is hope that the band’s forthcoming full-length is as good as this is.
The Anti-State War Machine EP is out now. Buy it here at CD Baby: www.cdbaby.com/cd/kriegslegion3.