Vinyl Vlog 639

Vinyl Vlog 639

Wednesday, 06 March 2024
Brigata Vendetta – This Is How Democracy Dies – “Get The Spirit”

A deeper look at the grooves pressed into the This Is How Democracy Dies LP by Brigata Vendetta. Okay, after the last few years of pundits both educated and ill-informed questioning the health and longevity of democracy and looking at the concept so closely the eye-strain could easily be attributable to a migraine, the idea of another punk band stepping forward to declare, “Us too!” is almost laughable enough to drive this critic into a stress-induced mental breakdown. Happily though, Bay area powerhouse Brigata Vendetta do not move slow enough on their debut album, This Is How Democracy Dies, to really let anyone listening decode any of the messages in any of the album’s thirteen cuts; clocking in at about a minute and a half per song on average, listeners aren’t given the opportunity to absorb any clear sensation before each song ends – they all just feel fast and violent.

The album’s “fast and violent” aesthetic hits listeners as soon as needle drops and “Get The Spirit” opens the A-side of This Is How Democracy Dies. There, with exactly no warning whatsoever, listeners aren’t so much assaulted as they are flat-out mangled with clear intent to do some damage; drummer Brian Zobel hits the ground charging with a crash cymbal-heavy salvo which sees guitarist Mike Caputo and singer/bassist Darrel Wojick rushing to remain in step, but the thing that commands the greatest amount of attention is Wojick’s assault of the microphone. From note one, Wojick takes cues from Paul Hudson and Bad Brains and just lambastes listeners with a vocal performance which resembles a man stepping on a live wire (lines like “Doesn’t matter what people say/ Have a plan, do it your way/ Doesn’t matter what they think of you/ D.I.Y through and fuckin’ through” are only intelligible with the benefit of a lyric sheet) and listeners will find themselves both deeply and completely hooked. The sound is infectious in a very similar way to how Washington DC hardcore was in the Eighties and Nineties and, when the song ends after just one minute and twenty seconds, listeners may be split in their opinions (some may find their heads left spinning by the passion and tempo of the song, while others will just be hooked by its energy), everyone who hears “Get The Spirit” will be buckled in and ready to take the ride with the band. From there, “Lose Again” hits the exact same rhythm with even better results before “Embrace” focuses itself on the kind of anger that Ian MacKaye typified with Fugazi and “’87 Again” lives up to its name by doing exactly what Dead Kennedys did in the later part of their career and get sludgier and more methodical in their movements. After that, Brigata Vendetta plays it safe by hardcore standards with “If This Is Life” (which really relies on the “this is not okay” focus typified by the “I do not want this” refrain of the song) before closing with one more furious statement in the form of “Stuck There.” Again, there’s no denying that there is a formulaic angle to the song but, on the right day, the individual performances from each member of Brigata Vendetta are capable of resonating just right and will have listeners ready to commit to the second side of the record.

…And, while the B-side does not begin on the single strongest note (“1000 Cuts” takes a minute and fifty seconds to blur its way through a song which has been written better by other bands before), Brigata Vendetta plays against the title of their own song and proves that they have more to give on the side’s second cut, “Nothing Left.” There, the band splices together aspects of Motorhead’s sound with some Metallica and still comes out sounding like a great, grinding skate-punk song which can make a believer out of all the remaining skeptics of BV’s talent and, just to prove it wasn’t a fluke, Brigata Vendetta does it again but even faster with the cut that follows it, “Tempers Flare.”

After Brigata Vendetta makes their point with the one-two punch of “Nothing Left”/Tempers Flare,” the band coasts a little with the same-y, shred-dy “Bodies” (which isn’t bad, but would probably have been better served as a B-side on a future single) before stomping along with the sublime “Never Let You Die” (which plays like the brightest spot in this late-running, and is just awesome) before rocking so hard that guitars sound like they’re in danger of being knocked out of intonation on “Into The Ground” and then shutting the whole album down HARD with “Greenies.” There again, Brigata Vendetta aims to repeat the style of “Into The Ground” by playing so hard that the song sounds in danger of coming undone; in this case though, the band condenses the power and performance of the song down so tightly that it sounds as though the band played the song twice in its fifty-eight second runtime. The result feels and sounds a lot like The Descendents in their ALL stage of development, but riding a monster rail of PCP – and while it would be fairly easy to dismiss “Greenies” as “speed for speed’s sake” on the wrong day, listeners will respect it for its sound and style, on the right one; closing This Is How Democracy Dies with a cut like “Greenies” might just be the stroke of genius that will help Brigata Vendetta break through and be tastemakers’ new answer to hardcore greatness – if all the cards fall correctly.

While it might feel unlikely in print, the proof of the quality in This Is How Democracy Dies is perfectly apparent in listening to the album. Throughout each of its thirteen cuts, the album plays so hot that it glows and, when it ends and the needle lifts, listeners will be ready for another serving right away. It’s a great album – and really, really habit-forming. [Bill Adams]


This Is How Democracy Dies is out now. Buy it here, directly from Pirates Press Records.

Comments are closed.