Four Hundred Years - The New Imperialism
Lovitt Records

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.
...john heisel...

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