Friday, June 24, 2011

Axiom: Apathy & Privilege

Review # 24
Artist: Axiom (w/spoken word by Mike Antipathy)
Title: Apathy & Privilege
Format: LP
Label: Tribal War Records
Year: 2000
Songs: 8

We've now reached the end of the LPs beginning with the letter "A." Axiom was a crust punk band from Portland, Oregon, the singer of which I met in 2001 (?) when we were both practicing with a local band called Poxy for a few weeks right before they dissolved. But I digress. This was Axiom's third (and I believe final) release, and it is unified by a single theme that runs through the various materials that make up this album: we have a responsibility to bring about the social changes we want to see, and if we don't at least try, we're complicit in war, poverty, and environmental destruction. We have resources available to us that most of the world don't have access to, and it's up to us to use them to affect change. It's a hard message to argue with if agree that there are important problems in the world, and it's delivered here compellingly and in multiple media forms.

This album includes a poster, a booklet that features the lyrics to all the songs and a bunch of other writing, 6 metallic crust songs by Axiom, and two articulate and passionate soap-box speeches by Mike Antipathy. The aforementioned theme runs through all of these.

The music here is mostly fast, heavy crust with alternating screamy and growly vocals. This is definitely on the more metal side of the crust genre, with a few of the songs even featuring noodley solos. A friend of of mine who's the guitarist in a local punk band said to me recently, "when you start to get good at playing punk, you end up end up playing metal," and this band really demonstrates what he was talking about.  This isn't a straight-up metal album by any means, but the influence is pervasive with a lot of double-kick on the bass drum, thick distortion, palm muting, and the aforementioned solos. This band is proficient in a way that is just not necessary for playing '77 style punk or street punk or what have you. I would imagine this would appeal to fans of death metal as much as it would fans of punk.

The booklet that's included with this album is better than most crust album booklets.  It features not only the lyrics and song explanations, but also ideas about how to get involved in activism, suggestions for further reading, and information on a specific environmental issue that the band must have been particularly passionate about, the Lowry radioactive waste landfill. It's clear here that the band actually wanted to give listeners tools for getting informed and involved, which takes this record to a level beyond the typical shouting about socio-political issues that characterizes so many punk records.

In both the writings in the booklet and the spoken word pieces, Mike and Axiom endorse a variety of tactics, from letter writing to protest to direct action. It's a refreshing and smart approach that invites people to participate in the way they feel they can best contribute. One of my favorite moments on this record is actually the first spoken word piece, which concludes side one. Mike Antipathy is persuasive, informed, and articulate. He'd be a great spokesperson for any political group, and he's apparently now an immigration lawyer, which I can imagine him being quite good at.

I guess I talked less about the music here than the other stuff, but I think that's in part because the other stuff is what sets this record apart.  But don't get me wrong, if you like thrashy crust, the music is good, too.

My favorite song on the record is "This Isn't Life."

Ok, so that wraps up "A!" I'm excited to get on to "B," in part because glancing at the records, it looks like there's a bit more variety there. Check back soon for the first "B" review!

Total songs listened: 282

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