About 3 years ago, the Buffalo metal scene got slapped across the face by an unknown force called I’m From the Government and I’m Here to Help. Since their conception, they’ve played a lot of successful shows, most of which they’ve booked on their own, and also released a highly regarded EP called Hard Truth/Forced Unity. Sure, there have been some twists and turns along the way, with the band now on their 3rd bassist, but it’s through adversity that this band seems to find their top moments. Now, it’s 2016 and the Govt boys intend to strike while the iron is hot and come into the new year with guns blazing.
Enter their new EP, Capital Punishment, their 2nd musical effort, due out on April 2 of this year. What’s so striking about this release is the level of heaviness in their overall sound compared to Hard Truth/Forced Unity. It seems that with the exit of former bassist/clean vocalist Jim Candytree, so went the clean vocals. But the predominance of Tom Bieler’s harsh vocals isn’t the only thing responsible for the band’s shift in sound. When listening to the guitar work on this album, you’ll find a diverse spread of hardcore, metalcore and thrash, the likes of which haven’t been fused together in this manner since Unearth’s The Oncoming Storm or Killswitch Engage’s Alive or Just Breathing. Or from another perspective, think about the old Snapcase guitar sound, the likes of Progression Through Unlearning, combined with Unearth’s melodic thrash riffing and an older Everytime I Die sound in their breakdowns, the likes of Last Night in Town, and you’ve got a glimpse at Govt’s latest recipe for mayhem.
Capital Punishment kicks off with “Judgment Day”, which holds a special place in vocalist, Tom Bieler’s heart. It’s obviously inspired by the Terminator films, with lyrics referencing Arnold’s famous line, “Hasta la vista, baby”, and a mob chant quoting a Christian Bale line from Terminator: Salvation, “If you’re listening to this, you are the resistance.” But you can’t deny that it’s a fun song to jam whether you’re a Terminator fan or not. Musically, it’s another turbulent ride that blends the various sub genres of metal in a way that’s becoming routine for Govt. Just when you think you know what kind of band you’re listening to, the vibe changes, but the songs never seem to suffer for it. Not every “crossover band” in metal has seamless writing ability like this and that accomplishment alone is noteworthy.
The EP continues with “Chemical Straightjacket”, a driving, upbeat tune with adrenaline soaked buildups, Converge style dissonant chords and darker chord progressions. Some of the vibes in this song border on death metal, but with the straight forward riffing of Robby Warren and Ronnie LePine, combined with their thunderous rhythm section, Steve Keicher (drums) and Jake Wiesnet (bass/live clean vocals), Govt never loses their familiar flavor.
As the EP progresses, songs like “Fight Within” and “Common Sense” bring up more of Govt’s signature melodic edge, reminiscent of their previous release. Yet, at the same time, this band has proven once again that they can seamlessly transition from brutal hardcore to thrash, then back to melody driven heavy metal without incident.
People familiar with Darkest Hour’s Deliver Us album might hear something from that release in Govt’s 1st single off Capital Punishment, “This Life Sentence”. Melodic thrash riffing and subtle octave chord progressions make this song the ideal candidate for a single. Govt also put together their first music video for this song, with Cody Dingfield at Outcast Productions. “This Life Sentence” might just be Bieler’s strongest vocal performance on the EP. There’s much more emotion and integrity in his vocals on this track, reinforcing the band’s decision to lead with this song prior to the EP’s release.
“Stand Up and Fight” concludes the EP and is probably the most generic sounding of the bunch. However, the song gets it’s point across nicely. With a catchy chorus, old school hardcore sounding mob chants and a pissed off attitude, it’s actually the perfect way for a band like Govt to bring this affair to a close.
Capital Punishment was engineered by Mike Hatalak (It Dies Today, Wreckage) and will be available for purchase at Govt’s EP release show in the spring 2016. Details for that show are pending. For now, take a look at the video for “This Life Sentence” and keep spinning Hard Truth/Forced Unity!