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July 14, 2024

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Raised Fist
Dedication (Epitaph)

By: Vinnie Apicella

"You've got nothing to say, and that scares me--" And so reads the last line from "Message Beneath Contempt," one shot fired among an endless array of sonic artillery geared to reduce radicalist movements to rubble. A raised ire leads to raised voices, arms, fists, and of course, plenty of unleashed rage against the machine, for this eleven song frontline pleasure cruise that promotes the idea of listener awareness to new heights of hostility. Burning Heart's uncovered some terrific talent over the years, scouring Scandinavia for some of the better Swedish Punk Rock and HC that every once in a while makes an unlikely impact on the rest of the developed world-- and not all of them need be Hellacopters reruns or checkered flag flyers to get noticed. "Dedication" is Raised Fist's third LP, and fifth release overall since their '93 arrival, and with it, comes a greater degree of just that, "dedication," to the lyrics but also the playing involved that's given greater focus to the overall song from the typical three minute, three chord punch out. No, we'll not confuse them with the many Emo-core crossover types gaining mass appeal for whining and progressive posturing over a six minute sequence of events that loses focus halfway in; Raised Fist's taken the strongest element of HC -- the voice, and backed it up with defiant chops and percussive break-in's that change time suddenly and attentively flow forward following yer expected verse, chorus, verse, chorus, bridge, return pattern while mixing in some sorely missed hooks and harmonies, effectively poking distinguishable holes in the sonic wall of density that primes the issue. Sweden's version of Sick Of It All leaves no stone unturned in voicing their displeasure with decision makers in whatever form they exist; touching upon social, political, and economic conditions along the way and exerting their people over the power viewpoint in amplified terms that are clear and easy to understand regardless of origin. Alexander's bark and the remaining trio's bite make for an unbeatable combination of musical pride that hammers home the point with an extra dent or two for good measure. A modern production adds to the integrity of the mix which in most cases resonates with plenty of redistributed open chorded power, though we could pick apart the rhythmic guitar levels here or there and make a strong argument against the last couple of Machine Head releases (see Bergstrand). "Dedication's" an honest and unilaterally voiced record that matches wits with infancy stage greats like Agnostic Front, 7 Seconds, Gorilla Biscuits, and today's Hatebreed propelled by the foul taste of Propain's styled riffs and rage and mid-range pummel making for a memorable modern day record few others have capably delivered.
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