Every piece I’ve written for Arctic Drones is about music I really, really enjoy. Same story with Tyranny is Tyranny, a post-punk, post-metal, post-noiserock band from Madison, Wisconsin. With their recently released second album The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, prepare for a mix of vocal rawness, intimate brass melancholy and a clear political message.
The album welcomes us with a brutal riff followed by Russel Emerson’s raw and tense vocals. “What happens to a dream deferred?” he asks us. “Does it explode?” I wouldn’t dare to guess, but at least Tyranny’s music does. As the band’s name, album title, and cover art might suggest, the entire album is an undisguised critique on the current political and economic system of the United States. Together with the album, the band released a few notes expressing their thoughts. Every song is accompanied with a few, let’s say, ‘personal views’ on the establishment that served as inspiration for the tracks. In these notes, the band expresses their fear of emerging neoliberal corporate globalism. According to them, “The key components of this agenda – privatization, deregulation, and cuts to social spending – have the effect of inducing or continuing economic shock with disastrous results for common people.”
RELEASE DATE: 13 June 2015 LABEL: Phratry Records
There’s also clearly a great deal of distrust regarding higher powers: “The US government goes to great lengths to justify drone warfare and torture programs using elaborate memos that set out the legality of clearly illegal activities.” To fully comprehend the music, listeners must keep the band’s view in mind (though not necessarily agree with them) because this album is more than just a collection of music. It is Tyranny’s way of expressing discontent with the government and helping create a critical opinion among their listeners regarding the establishment.
The opening track Or Does It Explode? is a great way to set the tone for what’s coming. The drumming is up-front, ensuring a steady flow and holding your attention even during the calmer bits. It took me a while, but I really dig the vocals on this one too. Some sections completely drag me into the music and make me want to jump up to join their battle against social injustice. Emerson’s vocal capabilities again come to play in She Who Struggles, with some bone crushing high-pitched screams telling us to live out our lives in exile.
The band also manages to create some more intimate compositions. I was happily surprised with the sound of a trumpet first emerging in Pillar Of Cloud, Pillar Of Fire. Together with the guitars, it creates such a melancholic, near-desperate atmosphere. Also, these more intimate parts give the listener time to reflect on the music and its message.
Kabuki Snuff Theater is a rather complicated track with a difficult flow. Considerably shorter compared to the rest of the tracks, it doesn’t appeal to me the way the other tracks do. Victory Will Defeat You makes up for that big time. While listening, I pictured myself taking a walk through a dystopian city at night, the track subtly building up to some sort of crying outrage. About halfway through, the band at last seems to have decided to take matters into their own hands.
Most of the time loud and brutal, other times soft and downhearted, Tyranny is Tyranny consistently confronts the listener with the idea that the world is sick and capitalism is the disease. While Tyranny’s music may not be the cure, it definitely is the thermometer.