Written By: Ben Millikan
Label: Raise Your Fist – Rating:
With So-Cal punk legends Strung Out celebrating their twentieth year as a band, it has to make one wonder: where is the next generation of punk going to come from? Or, will it come at all? The type of double-time, West-coast speed-punk that was made so popular by early Fatwreck bands like Strung Out, Lagwagon, and No Use For A Name seems to be a thing of the distant past that no one really wishes to reclaim. But then again, a relatively new band on the east coast may have something to say about that.
Formed in 2000, After The Fall is a New York punk rock band that has compiled thirteen blazing tracks of speed and aggression with their third full-length Fort Orange. With the majority of the songs clocking in at just around two minutes long, the kinetic fury that pulses through the record will leave your head rocking and your fists pumping in the air, long after you’re still gasping for a breath. The 220 bpm theme that reaches into each song is an amazing testament to the arm work of drummer Chris Millington. Never wavering in his speed or precision, Millington is still able add some color to his frantic beats with a few gut-busting drum fills.
Not to be outdone in the areas of speed and accuracy is guitarist/vocalist Mike Moak.
Showing his influence from the West-coast punk scene, Moak is obviously a fan of the ultra fast staccato palm-muting technique. Blending this with some open note picking, he knows how to work the stereo sound as he swaps riffs between speakers and creates some interesting, albeit unintentional harmonies. The craziest amount of fretwork is heard on “Poor Excuse” and “Patroon Island.”
As upfront and straight-forward as the music is, Moak is just as direct with his socio-political lyrics and his no b.s. attitude. Having a singing style comparable to that of Propagandhi or Big Wig, there is an untrained melodic quality to his voice that is still aggressive and edgy. But true to old-school punk standards, Moak doesn’t really care if you think his lyrics are poetic enough or whether or not he has a shot at winning American Idol––his job is to get you angry and incite you into starting a moshpit.
The heart-stopping breack-neck pace of Fort Orange will you bring listeners back to their youth and their first experience at a punk in a crowded garage or a dingy basement. Those who aren’t fans of punk rock may be turned off by the repetitiveness and lack of musical depth. But again, After The Fall isn’t looking to tear down any musical walls with groundbreaking material––they’re just looking to tear down walls.