From start to finish, this record starts with heavy hands and goes hard style for a solid 10 tracks and 29 minutes. It’s already a quintessential addition to their catalog – Expanding on their style and sound that is often emulated.
True to their style, this record is heavily influenced by our current and highly volatile political environment. Each track analyzes and asks listeners to question a different social issue we are faced with. The first track “The Opening Move” is the shortest, but one of the most important on the record. It sets the tone for this album and proposes a request of the listener; Andrew “Drew York” Dijorio cracks like a whip with –
Verse: “They want the pawns to fight each other
And say that we’re not the same
Well, I say, “don’t hate the player Hate the game
Bridge: So, what’s it gonna be?
You with us or the enemy?
So, what’s it gonna be?
Your move, motherfucker
It’s your move, motherfucker”
The following track “Loudest In the Room”, in his bridge, Drew York quickly draws the following line in the sand:
“Join or die
I won’t pick a side
Won’t lay down my life on an invisible line
Join or die
I won’t pick a side
Pledge no allegiance”
This message is felt throughout the record. Challenging the listener to self-analyze what we’re prepared to and willing to challenge in the future to come. The following 3rd track on this record is probably the most infamous music video of 2017. The song itself was created in response to the viral story of Richard Spencer getting decked, post Trump inauguration. The video depicts the band abducteing a Neo-Nazi who’s in the process of carrying out another act of Domestic Terrorism. In the video they abduct the man, assault him, and subsequently tattoo a swastika on his forehead. The video was published on 7/12/17 and at the time of the record release 9/8/17, it has 20,000+ comments and 50,000 dislikes; presumably all of them are from the “Alt-Right”. If you are so inclined for cheap entertainment, read through the comments. They are just sad and truly laughable.
The next and 4th track is “Let’s Make a Deal”, which critiques America’s use of Straw Man/citizen equity to fund itself. Using We, the common folk, as a guaranteed asset to continue our National Debt without defaulting. Track 5 is a beautiful homage to Tom Searle, who was the guitarist for Architects – Sadly he lost his battle to cancer last year. The 6th track, “Plead the Fifth”, is the divisional track on this record. It separates the individual tracks from the collaborative tracks. It continues the heavy hitting vocals, and oh man the breakdown is absolutely amazing! The lyrics in this section are going to be heavy hitters in the pit:
“Welcome to the melting pot, motherfucker
If you don’t like it, then get the fuck out”
The 7th song, “Strange Fiction” is the first collaborative track on this record, and is absolutely the best on this record. Dare I say the best song of 2017? It is a beast of a song and I can’t wait to pit to this one. Just spinning this track gets these hands heavy. I’m over here like LET’S OPEN THIS PIT UP and I’m ready to crowd kill these monitors. This track features Keith Buckley of Every Time I Die. In this song he lays down the outro, and he brings back the vocal range frequently used in “Gutter Phenomenon”.
Track 8 is titled “All Day & a Night”, and features Bryan Garris of Knocked Loose. This one is also an absolute banger. Track 9 is a familiar song, “The House Always Wins”, which was released late 2016 just after the Elections. This song was already amazing, but even more so with guest vocals by Vinnie Paz of Jedi Mind Tricks. He comes in at Verse 2 dropping a heavy ass truth bomb. This track discuss the role of government, tough leaders, and faces change, but the system never changes. It’s always the same bullshit, just a different steer. The 10th and closing track is also the title track as “Only Death is Real”. This song is a hidden gem. It’s a good track, but following the five best tracks I expected a little more to this as the closer. That being said, this song is one the few tracks that carries that groovy heavy chugging that you can’t help but move to. I think this one would be a great concert opener, that’s for sure.
Overall I was entertained, but not impressed. This record felt like a side step in their progression. They really gave up much of their groovy sound that I personally fell in love with. That being said, it was a great hardcore record. The other thing that was slightly off-putting was how straightforward they are with lyrics on this record. Typically they are sarcastic and metaphorical, this record is more of a ‘you don’t need to think for yourself, here have a buffet of good music with catchy phrases’. My favorite track on this record is hands down “Strange Fiction”. I don’t care who you are or what type of rock/metal/punk/core you listen to, this song would get Taylor Swift throwing down in a pit, crowd killing like a boss. I give this record a solid 8/10 and am hyped to see it live. I enjoyed the music, I enjoy the message, and I would give it a solid recommendation. Until next time…
Review by Old Gregg