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Seattle thrashy punk quintet The Insurgence don’t stop at merely wanting to be noticed. They seem fixed on demanding your attention. Their newest record, Elimi-Nation (Innerstrength Records), is a testimonial to that fact. Dudes can play, and thankfully, not just in a shreddy, flashy, chops-indicate-penis-size kind of way. The Insurgence clearly understand the overlapping nature of punk, hardcore, and metal. They use it to build individual parts as well as whole songs on a variety of platforms, and understand how to then augment (which almost anyone can do) or temper them (which few have mastered) with different types of layering. And the distinct street esthetic to their sound acts as a unifying element for it all. Musically this album is well-packaged. It sounds great, the performance is tight and feels live, and likely appeals to a lot of people.
This all sounds good — great, even. Unfortunately, instead of just being able to pick out their influences, I’m hearing the seams that bind them. I suppose it could be strictly a music issue. But I think Elimi-Nation‘s big problem actually lies somewhere in the intersection of the band’s intent and the music’s execution (which is all too common in this corner of underground music). This is brash music. There’s no doubt it requires a minimum dose of testosterone throughout it in order to feel right. But I find there is a fine line between exerting testicular fortitude and wanting me to actually see your balls at all times. They are not mutually exclusive…and The Insurgence actually demonstrates that on many occasions. There are many spots on Elimi-Nation that I would normally find questionable, but, due to their force of attitude, I instead find myself on the rollercoaster with them; head bobbing, tongue sticking out. There are also many spots where they catch me off guard by taking a risk on a cool, smart, and unforeseen choice. But those moments go by too quickly too often. And they are outnumbered by spots that feel trite; where that ballsy attitude instead comes off as compensation for a weak musical idea, rather than a natural instinct that transforms a potentially derivative part into a declaration of will. Interestingly though, The Insurgence’s earlier material doesn’t seem to experience the same issues. The music seems considerably more straightforward, delightfully forceful, yet fully recognizable as the same band. With that in mind, Elimi-Nation strikes me as a picture of ambitious band that has decided to step up their game and fucking go for it. They aren’t content to sit back, and I love that. And so, for me, their next release, with the inevitable refinements and improvements that comes from artists taking a leap, is the one to watch for.
-Matt