Useless ID – State Is Burning

  • Cole Faulkner posted
  • Reviews

Useless ID

State Is Burning - Fat Wreck Chords

I’ve made no secret and offered no apologies for my lukewarm enthusiasm towards Israeli punk mainstays Useless ID.  Their efforts have always struck me more as a love letter to the punk bands of the early 90’s – Bad Religion, The Descendents, No Use For A Name, NOFX – than an original spark.  More like mechanical re-creations of Tony Sly’s legacy than original works standing the test of time.  But in their twentieth year as a unit, and with the release of their eighth full length, State Is Burning, the band is forcing me to change my tune.

State Is Burning is Useless ID’s most passionate and genuine output – ever.  The twelve-track record is unquestionably the quartet’s masterwork and will be remembered as their lasting contribution to the punk scene.  In other words, I’m hooked and will be listening to State Is Burning for decades to come.

As for what made for such a powerful shift? Unrestrained passion – the type front man Yotam Ben-Horin explored previously in his recent acoustic adventure, but this time plugged in, unapologetic, and in your face.

State Is Burning aspires to the days of sub-thirty minute classics that trim the fat and concisely play to the bare essentials.  While Useless ID had a bad habit of letting repetition get the best of them, not a single chorus or verse on State Is Burning outstays its welcome.  For instance, opener “Land of Idiocracy” rattles through a barrage of jarring riffs and melodic chorus in a mere 59 seconds, but feels more complete and purposeful than past songs three or four times that length (and that’s not even the shortest track).  Accelerating at a breakneck pace with the rumbling bass and vicious snapping of drummer Gideon Berger, follow up “Stopwatch” sets up State Is Burning as a passionate political statement, moving from throaty roar to articulate mission statement characteristic of similarly aggressive Bad Religion tunes. 

The beauty of State Is Burning can be summed up in songs like “Creation” and “Genetic.”  “Creation” finds a catchy beat and assults it from every angle.  Melodic at its core, the band weaves through tempo shifts, belted choruses, full-on instrumental retreat and the type of “woa-oah” accompaniment that moves an audience to its feet. Likewise, “Genetic” barrels forth unapologetically, fueled by resentment and distrust, and culminating in an instrumental climax unlike anything else State Is Burning has to offer.  Others like “Without A Choice” thrive on angular riffs, a la The Descendents, and even classically Useless ID tracks like “Nightshift” thrive in the context of the album. “Detune” captures the magic of Lagwagon in a slow moving, dampened intro that viciously explodes into a masterful whirlwind of Joey Cape and Fat Mike.  And of course, be sure to check out the nifty little ode to the Ramones, “We Don’t Want The Airwaves,” (which made a recent appearance on an EP of the same name) for a little something on the lighter side.  That’s right, no filler here folks, just track after track of new surprises.

While the aforementioned influences have always served as a guiding light for Uesless ID, they’ve typically felt, impressionistic  – that is until now. State Is Burning frames Useless ID as the punk rock powerhouse they’ve always aspired to be.  With fire in their veins and fists raised to the sky, even naysayers can’t deny this passionate display from newly crowned punk rock royalty.  Consider me a convert.