It’s tough to write an unbiased review about an album that you’ve been eagerly anticipating for years; harder even still when the album lives up to and surpasses the expectations you’ve built up in your brain over that time. So fuck it. Propagandhi’s sixth full-length studio release, Failed States, is a goddamn barn-burner that hits all the right spots.The band is in fine form here; drums pounding an unholy tattoo, bass rumbling with impending doom, and guitar blazing throughout. Guitar player Chris Hannah and bass-master Todd Kowalski (rounded out by Jord Samoleski on the skins and David Guillas) exchange vocal duties more than any release since Today’s Empires, Tomorrow’s Ashes. Lyrically, Hannah tackles childhood isolation (“Devil’s Creek“), family and fatherhood (“Unscripted Moments“), and the little things that make life bearable (“Things I Like“), while Kowalski hits on the perils of winter cycling (“Haddron Collision“), transphobia (“Cognitive Suicide“) and child prostitution (“Dark Matters“). Clocking in at just under 40 minutes, the pace moves from epic slow-burning headbanger to raging thrash to contemplative introspection and back again, like a full-out ten-speed commute through heavy traffic, complete with close calls, fast stops, and the (occasional) soothing respite of underused bike routes. After the wild, often breathless ride, the album ends with “Duplicate Keys Icaro (An Interim Report),” an ode to the majesty of the universe and the ultimate transitory nature of our little lives here on Earth. Exciting, exhilarating, downright fucking enjoyable. Crank this shit up to 11 and raise both middle fingers in the air. This album rocks. Fuckin’ rights reserved. (Epitaph, propagandhi.com) Sheldon Birnie
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