Wake The Sleeping Dragon! by Sick Of It AllRelease date: November 2, 2018
Label: Century Media Records
In the thirty plus years since they formed in the midst of the burgeoning NYHC scene, Sick Of It All have never ventured too far from their roots in terms of sound, but instead of treading water, they have built a catalogue of consistently strong albums and a ferocious live reputation. Now on album number twelve with Wake The Sleeping Dragon!, the four piece have amassed another seventeen short vigorous bursts of pure punk energy. Lou (vocals) and Pete Koller (Guitar) have, along with Armand Majidi (drums) and Craig Setari (bass) have once again emerged to show everyone how it’s done.
As you would expect, there is no false sense of security as the band rush headlong into the chaos that hustles the next half hour of your life, with the sub two minute ‘Inner Vision’ driven along by the unrivalled rhythm section of Majidi and Setari. Tracks like ‘To The Wolves’ and ‘Robert Moses Was A Racist’ see the band take aim at the state of the country they call home, and despairs of the situation they find themselves in as much as rages against it. Similar to a band like Napalm Death the band have become more and more pissed off with the way the world is and have used this to fuel the aggression in their music, rather than simply trying to raise the bar from the last record. All of the ire on show is true and well intentioned.
It’s not all anger though. There are patches where the band’s sense of humour come through, with ‘Self Important Shithead’ taking aim at the social media obsessed world we live in, and the brilliantly titled ‘Beef Between Vegans’, as well as the tongue in cheek look at their own scene in ‘Hardcore Horseshoe’. They even have summoned the influence of the Dropkick Murphy’s in the anthemic shout-along ‘Bulls Anthem’, which features Rise Against vocalist Tim McIlrath and is sure to be a live favourite. You can imagine the atmosphere that tune will have in a one of their shows, as the crowd stop pushing and shoving for a couple of minutes to all join in. ‘Always With Us’ is a dedication to lost friends, one of the few slower moments, but again a chance for the track to become a live staple. This is one band who know how to tone it down without becoming false or crass.
Sick Of It All have kept their trademark sound throughout their career with no thoughts towards the changing face of the hardcore scene over the years. Probably because of this approach to do their own thing, they have consistently released quality albums and put on shows that shame bands half their age. This is not a band who have sat back at all, they are still as pissed off and energetic as ever. If you like old school, bass heavy, shouty hardcore that cares not for trends, and instead pummels you into submission as much as one of their shows does, then this will likely be one of your favourite albums of the year. You generally know what you are getting with a Sick Of It All album, and they never let you down.