Album: Capital Punishment – EP
These days, the death sentence—rare as it is–doesn’t pack the same punch that it used to. Rather, instead of the jarring imagery of punishment that accompanied the harrowing reminder of human frailty, it is akin to being swept under the rug by a broom of chemicals—quiet, quaint, unobtrusive. However, when Buffalo-based metalcore act I’m From the Government And I’m Here to Help (which will now be referred to as I’m From the Government) Titled their release Capital Punishment, one highly doubts it was the contemporary manifestation of the death penalty they had in mind. Rather, I’m From the Government… are a firing squad: bold, violent and ferociously energetic. Combining thrashy, metallic riffs with ruthless breakdowns and the slightest hint of melody, this New York quintet have created a strong release that towers above their debut offering, giving fans of all types of extreme music something to enjoy.
Capital Punishment is a ferocious amalgam of aggressive, lacerating thrash metal and brooding, beefy hardcore. From the dizzying riffs and thick kick drum that sets off “Judgement Day,” I’m From the Government… are a juggernaut, roaring forward without giving the listener any time to catch their breath or take in their surroundings. At the center of the quintet’s bustling dynamic is drummer Steve Keicher, beating away with the frantic fervor of the Energizer bunny—amped up on two pounds of amphetamines. Whether it’s the raunchy, wild nature of “Judgement Day,” or the darker, more devastating tone in “This Life Sentence,” Keicher keeps the band moving forward without skipping a beat, dominating the mix with a meaty bass drum, deep toms and whip-crack snare that cuts through the many layers of I’m From the Government’s many layers of musicianship. Keicher’s kick drum—while ferocious in its own right—is never alone. Bassist Jake Weisnet shadows Keicher’s kick pedal like a poltergeist, always adding depth and dissonance to every dancy two-step and brash breakdown the band has to offer. With Weisnet and Keicher crafting a dense low-end, guitarists Ronnie LePine and Robby Warren are free to riff, groove and chug away—which is exactly what they do. Take, for example, “Chemical Straitjacket.” Here, LePine and Warren flow from catchy, down-tuned grooves into bone-busting breakdowns before launching into a riotous, thrashy solo that serves as a stellar reminder of the band’s metallic inclinations. Lead song “Judgement Day” is similar, as is the metallic anthem “Fight Within”; LePine and Warren write and play furiously fretted leads and ruthless rhythm segments that smother the listener under a leaden blanket of Mach-speed metalcore.
If you think I’m From the Government… might lose their energy and breakneck candor with their vocal element, you’re going to be sorely mistaken. Frontman Thom Bieler may not have the most diverse range, but he compensates with more endurance than an entire Olympic Marathon race. Bieler is a beast, ripping his way through dense thickets of thrashy metalcore with nothing more than his voice and a staunch political opinion (if you didn’t gather the band’s political-centric nature from their name, shame on you). While “Chemical Straitjacket” and “This Life Sentence” are more introspective (with the former’s lyrics being a little too goofy), “Judgement Day” and “Common Sense” revert to the band’s political podium for content, yet doing so in a way that is fun and catchy enough to keep even the less-politically inclined entertained. The only place Bieler—and the band as a whole—lose points is the somewhat marked lack of vocal variety, which, energetic or otherwise, means listeners may grow weary of Belier’s shouts by the end of the EP.
Built on a canvas of crushing, quick drumming and furious fretwork, I’m From the Government make a political statement bolder and more unwavering than any presidential candidate. Capital Punishment is just as brutalizing and energetic as the name would imply—and while it is haunted by slight monotony that makes the last couple tracks meld into one, it is ultimately redeemed by just how relentless and energetic it is. Bieler’s cantankerous demeanor and passionate, driven lyrical content make the band’s message both crystal clear and fun; as listeners will have a hard time not banging their heads and shouting along. Even with slight missteps, Capital Punishment is an enormous step up from the band’s debut and a solid record in its own right—meaning the band definitely aren’t going to be put down because of this EP.
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By: Connor Welsh