Listen, kids: There was a time when the splinter cells of punk, hardcore, and metal distinguished themselves with divergent doses of brutality and technical prowess. But in the late '80s came a wave of bands pulling those forms together into the same fold, and crossover acts like Nausea, Destroy, Hirax, and Suicidal Tendencies raised the bar for aggressive underground music. Proudly following that blurred dividing line is West Palm's Red State Riot, whose politics of thrash deliver serious music along with acerbic tongue-lashings for the right wing.
With elements of metal production and instrumentation tied to the post-pubescent fury of punk, the trio's debut opens with the call to arms of disenfranchised outsider cultures, "Bring Down the Borders." Amazingly, that angry energy is sustained for the duration of the album. Pete Gross' raging, speed-metal guitar matches his vocal fluctuations and spans breakdowns and minute, spine-tingling solos. Dean Vincent's drums gun the tempo and chunk up the cadence, with two large bass drums in lieu of one double-bass pedal beating the same skin. Bassist Peter Lloyd's work is seamlessly woven into the rhythm but explodes on occasion to lend smart licks that inject an almost funky kiss into the chaos.
Red State Riot
In the spirit of D.R.I. and early Corrosion of Conformity, "Propaganda" clocks in as the album's shortest song but is an all-out assault, complete with a gang-vocals moshpit breakdown as RSR name-calls Clear Channel and Fox News. In the opener, the band is bold: "Bush and Cheney wanna enslave me..." but later on, it's also lighthearted (or smart) enough to not drown the force of the music entirely in politics. "Riotgrrl," RSR's stab at trendy youths, provides a humorous respite, raging "Sleater-Kinney, Crass, and Prong, Suicide Girls is her dotcom." With the exception of some wordy intros, this is an impressive crossover record, brutal and technically adept.
Red State Riot celebrates the release of its self-titled debut with special guests Smegma and the Ruins at 10 p.m. Friday, February 24, at Ray's Downtown, 519 Clematis St., West Palm Beach. Tickets cost $6. Call 561-835-1577.