The Dollyrots have released their annual song for the Holidays, this time they've cut a New Year's anthem, a spankin'…
Driven Fear – Society’s Finest
Society’s Finest - Pee Records
Australia’s Driven Fear plays hardcore and punk so close to the line that they blur any good attempt at distinguishing between the two. Instead, as is clear with their latest release, the ironically titled Society’s Finest, this is a band that doesn’t discriminate between camps. Sometimes vocalist Tim reaches deep inside and sets forth all his demons; for others he and his crew scales back their chunky riffs with guitarist Chris assuming a hoarse, weathered streetwise tone. In any case, their influences come and go as they please, making Society’s Finest a punchy album with a mind of its own.
As far as lyrics go, Driven Fear certainly takes after its punk lineage. These aren’t angry, self-defeating anthems; no, these are politically fueled rallying cries that strive for social justice. Opener “Keep In Check” kicks off with a challenge for listeners: turn off your societal autopilot and engage that brain. When Tim pipes up and states the obvious, “every action starts with a thought;” it goes without saying that for the next twenty-five minutes listeners have the chance to shed “the fear of what may come,” “let it go,” and ditch the oppression that ultimately disguises itself has daily “choice.”
But when it comes to the music, they drench their discontent in pure aggression. Give a listen to “Laugh At The Monkeys” and hear Tim and Chris angrily power through a surprisingly poetic sequence that blends humour with a grim picture of the corporate world’s dehumanizing effects: “see the monkeys run around in their own funny way. It’s so funny cause they keep it going through the day. They live life from pay to pay. They want to keep moving up so they’ll step on you on the way.” Admittedly, this twisted humor could have been an opportune time to employ a little creative license and break out from their strict hardcore path, but that’s more of a personal wish than a true fault. Even so, Society’s Finest has a good bit of variety for what it is. They never dwell on a given tempo too long, nor do they exhaust a given vocal or musical style. Take the shouty gang vocals on “Enough.” When inserted between frenzied outbursts and hardcore raggers, they offer just enough direction to appease punks and hardcore fans alike.
Driven Fear is a strong dose of hardcore punk without the pitfalls of a glossy hardcore scene, and benefiting from a punk’s revolutionary view of the world. Society’s Finest is a quick-witted and razor tongued statement. But importantly, it also offers hope. When the album winds down listeners are treated to “New Beginnings,” a track meant to inspire those looking to break free from the corporate machine. With the benefit of hindsight Tim yells hopefully “with clenched fists and a clear head, new beginnings were in sight,” to which he confirms “Love where I’m at. Love where I’m going. Love these new beginnings.”
Oddly enough lyrics have become a focal point for this review. For that I can thank the CD’s accompanying liner notes – something I see as essential in a genre that can drown out precision with overbearing emotion. Other bands and labels should take note.