If the political and social swamp that is the United States in the year 2018 can have one positive, it is that it provides the perfect environment to create fierce extreme music or art. This isn’t lost on New York hardcore legends Sick Of It All who on Wake The Sleeping Dragon! (Century Media) tackle subjects ranging from the 1%, President Trump’s idiotic fucking wall and the institutionalized racism built into New York City’s infrastructure. One hell of a thesis.
And as a native New Yorker myself it’s easy to understand why Sick of it All still have fire in the lungs. In the span of a week, we’ve had mail bombs, a synagogue mass shooting and a clown in chief who says he almost canceled one of his circle-jerks/political rallies because he was having a bad hair day. America in 2018 is a murky place and that inevitably creates blowback whether through its artistic statement or a closed fist to the temple.
Sick Of It All chose the art, but songs like ‘Self Important Shirthead’ with its utter disgust for selfies and hashtags still have the thud of a well-placed left hook. That energy snakes its way unto a NYHC stomper like ‘Work the System’ which feature gang vocals and lyrics that I imagine would be the stuff that a young Bernie Sanders would bellow if he grew up going to CBGB matinée shows. ‘Bad Hombres’ takes a chunky Helmet style riff and uses it as the canvas to critique the proposed Mexican-American border wall and throwing a concrete thick breakdown in for good measure.
If there’s a complaint to be found on Wake The Sleeping Dragon! it may be a sustainability problem. While still packing heat there are a few tracks in the middle that are too comfortable in the mid-tempo groove. Fortunately, in the last third, we return to vicious speed and sharp riffs.
We may be living in what appears to be a toilet society, but at least we have tunes to enjoy as we watch the world burn.