Words About Music
United Nations “The Next Four Years”
At the center of one of the most controversial punk groups of the past decade is Geoff Rickly, lead singer of now defunct post-hardcore group Thursday. His newest undertaking is a screamo/powerviolence supergroup called United Nations, not to be confused with that organization. Speaking of the organization, the real UN has tried to sue the band in the past, which has led to the band’s decision not to copyright any of their songs. Also, the band’s members had to remain anonymous during their formative period (except for Geoff Rickly) because they were contractually obligated not to record material with any other band. Rumored former members include Converge drummer Ben Koller and Glassjaw vocalist Daryl Palumbo. The current lineup includes members of Pianos Become the Teeth, Acid Tiger, and The Lovekill. Rickly remains the group’s sole constant member.
Looking past all the controversy, though, one sees a visceral, politically vocal, intense band that incorporates black metal, screamo, and powerviolence into their sound. Basically, they play loud and fast. Unlike several other bands that play loud and fast that have sort of tainted the word “screamo,” United Nations actually write creative lyrics about issues they feel passionate about. These issues usually include government oppression, government deception, government greed; these guys love to sing about why our government is corrupted in nearly every moral way. The lyrics are actually worth looking into because they go about this in a markedly non-preachy manner. You could totally ignore the lyrical content and probably enjoy the album the same amount because it is also well performed. Rickly’s screams and screeches are vitriolic and the instrumentation is uplifting.
Some of the best moments on this album are where the band addresses other issues, like religious disillusionment in “United Nations Find God” and “Between Two Mirrors.” I also really enjoy the 7-minute “F# A# $” because not only is it a well played reference to Godspeed You! Black Emperor’s “F# A# ∞” album—specifically the track “Dead Flag Blues”—but it’s also a welcome change of pace in comparison to the 1-3 minute tracks on the rest of the album. “The Next Four Years” is a gripping experience. It’s witty, dark, and a remarkable tribute to the fallen screamo bands of years past like Pg. 99 and Orchid. This is a band that sticks with their ideology without coming across as pretentious or annoying.
In the six years following their self-titled debut, United Nations has kept pretty quiet. They’ve played some live shows and released a few EPs, but for the most part the timing was never right for another album. Until now. As violence in the middle east continues to escalate (again), it’s the perfect time for some politically-charged powerviolence. It’s an album concerning just what the hell our collective government plans to do about… everything. It’s a time of constant crisis, and we need a punk group that asks the right questions. “The Next Four Years” feels equally retrospective and prospective, using our eight years with Bush as historical proof that our next few with Obama are likely to be terrible, whether we have a Democrat in office or a Republican. “Which side are you on? The left or the right?” a voice asks on the album. “Is that a joke? They’re both the same.” Maybe it’s time for a real change.
SCORE – 8.9
FAVORITE TRACKS – Serious Business, Revolutions at Varying Speeds, False Flags, United Nations Find God, Between Two Mirrors, Fuck the Future, Stole the Past, United Nations vs. United Nations, F# A# $
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