Four Hundred Years - The New Imperialism
A band's swansong is a record that will forever resonate with fans
as the last recorded missive they received. Final albums provide an
interesting point of reference for bands -- with a mediocre final
album (see: Pavement - Terror Twilight), it is easy to see why a
band split up; when a band's final album is brilliant (see: Refused -
The Shape of Punk to Come) it merely serves to further the mystique
surrounding a band, and creates immediate interest in any future
projects the band's members pursue.
With "The New Imperialism," Four Hundred Years have created a swansong
that, while not brilliant, will be remembered as an emotionally and
politically engaging final statement. "The New Imperialism" opens with
"If You're a Joke I Don't Get It" which immediately grabs me in with
its spazzy drumming, discordant guitars, and screamed vocals. Upon
closer examination, the song seems to deal with a topic always
near-and-dear in the punk scene -- selling out. Whereas most punk
bands seem to write off any success as selling out, Four Hundred Years
show that they have a maturity rarely seen in the punk scene, singing
"And it's not that I object to your success, just the price you paid."
From this Yaphet Kotto-ish opening salvo, Four Hundred Years move into
a more traditional political realm with the album's title track,
dealing with the capitalism and greed of the United States.
Four Hundred Years tackle many subjects in the remaining tracks on the
album, and the most interesting part about their political stances it
that it seems as if they're still questioning. The bands' political
beliefs are presented subtly, and not forced down the listener's
throat. This is a tactic to be commended, because it almost seems like
the band is holding a one-on-one discourse with the listener, even going
so far as to provide her with a dozen links to various activist organizations.
As a final album, "The New Imperialism" is inspirational -- it shows that
there was still vitality in the hardcore scene, and provides hope that other
bands will continue the path trodden by Four Hundred Years. While their music
is not the most accessible, kids into the hardcore/emo scene will appreciate
this album musically, and might even learn a few things, even if they end up
not agreeing with everything Four Hundred Years had to say.
Lovitt Records reports that 3/4 of Four Hundred Years are currently working
together in a new band, In Return. "The New Imperialism" has certainly gotten
me excited to hear this new band -- maybe there's hope yet.
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