Album Review | Dropdead | S/t 2020

Election season is right around the corner folx, and from the looks of it, this one’s gonna be a shitshow. Between the postal service being dismantled, the entire country butting heads while those in power revel in it, and of course this pandemic, it is nearly impossible to have hope that things will get better. But perhaps hope needs to be dead, because without hope, action becomes the only viable option for change: the exact sentiment that Dropdead explore in their upcoming self-titled record Dropdead 2020.

As their first full-length in over twenty years, Dropdead has packed 23 tracks into a half-hour record, including some new versions of songs released last year on Demo 2019. Many of the tracks barely approach the one-minute mark, yet each is absolutely packed with high-energy performances and plenty of unbridled rage. With lauded producer Kurt Ballou at the studio control board, Dropdead fills its lungs with all the collective vitriol and virulence this band has been building since the 90’s, and blasts that fury forward into 2020.

Dropdead has never shied away from bucking at the powers that be, but this record hits like a headbutt, a direct and fearless challenge to the fascist regime that is our current administration. The opening lines of the album set the tone for what is to follow: “Hail to the leader of racists / Bow down to his wisdom so vain”—a sentiment echoed later in the track “Hail to the Emperor:” “Hail to the emperor / Hail to his lies / Hail to the sycophant / At his feet the future dies.” Songs like “Hatred Burning” and “Torches” point past the president to condemn his alt-right followers, while “Corrupt” attacks those who hide behind their xenophobic and racist attitudes: “You live a life of hate / Exploiting people’s differences / because you can’t relate.”

While every song on Dropdead 2020 brings into focus the tragedy and terror of our modern world, their reason for doing so isn’t to stoke fear, but fury. “Only Victims” urges the listener not to wait for change, but to weaponize it: “Spit in the face of tradition / Scream in the face of despair.” Many of the songs are replete with the image of the masses on their knees, and each instance is followed by a command to rise. The closing track “The Future is Yours” is a true call-to-arms, hammering home the message this record seeks to impart with lines like “The future is yours to fight for and seize / A better world is yours if you try.” Instead of wasting words or veiling concepts in metaphor, Dropdead chooses direct and blunt imagery so the listener can see the reality of our situation—that things are fucked, but we’re not helpless in the least.

Dropdead 2020 is a mission and a message wrapped in song, and as such, it is appropriately vicious and relentless in sound. Squeals of feedback fill the miniscule spaces between tracks to keep the record continually moving. The drums bang out obstinate beats at ridiculous tempos, dropping blasts between skankbeats and bursting cymbals. The bass guitar rumbles like a train barreling down the tracks, and the guitars churn out chord changes at preposterous speeds, especially in the latter half of the album. Above the slurry of sound, the vocals bark and bite at the ears with a voice loaded with aggression, but clear enough so that not a single word is lost—a vitally important stance when the message means as much as the music.

Armed with powerful riffs and painfully poignant lyrics, the dragon that is Dropdead has returned, hungry for the blood of racists and corrupt politicians. Their new self-titled throws away all pretense and pomp, using blunt instrumentation and wild performances to tackle the harsh realities of our current world. Dropdead 2020 takes the collective frustration we are all feeling, and urges us to alchemize that into action. For we are the ones who can turn the tide of insanity, if only we remember where the power truly lies: in ourselves and in each other.

My Top Track: “Book of Hate”

Dropdead releases September 25th on Armageddon Records. You can preorder the record on Bandcamp, or stream the rest of their discography on Spotify. For all things Dropdead, follow them on Facebook and Instagram @dropdeadri.

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