(Phratry Records, 2014)
There are very few instances ever when it’s appropriate to place the words “balls” and “shredding” close together in text, but I submit that a review of Let It Come from Whom It May, the debut album from Tyranny Is Tyranny out of Madison, Wisconsin, is as good a place for that as any. Here’s how it’s gonna work: Let It Come has balls. The members (Ha! Balls! Members! I’m terrible) are good at shredding. Maybe that’s all I even need to write for you to get it.
Who am I kidding – my ego would never let me stop a paragraph in. Tyranny Is Tyranny formed following the dissolution of United Sons of Toil (hail Hope Is Not a Strategy), and features ex-USOTs Russell Emerson Hall on guitar and vocals and Jason Jensen, also on guitar and vocals. Bassist/vocalist M. Guy Ficcioto (uh, I had to look at his name a couple times to make sure I was reading that right) and drummer Jonathan Brown round out the quartet. Together they are loud. That’s certainly in the tradition of their former band. But, they’re a bit more deliberate and a bit less flashy. They’re pretty much a post metal/rock hybrid, which means they stretch their heaviness out over long songs. Sounds pretty good to me – I’m all about taking a lengthy dip in heady waters, as long as I’m pummeled by shouting and guitars.
And they’re shouting about angry stuff too – “Tyranny Is Tyranny” is the name of the fourth chapter of Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States, and here’s an excerpt that the band has used in their promo copy: “We were not born critical of existing society. There was a moment in our lives … when certain facts appeared before us, startled us, and then cause us to question beliefs that were strongly fixed in our consciousness … [W]e all have an enormous responsibility to bring to the attention of others information they do not have, which has the potential of causing them to rethink long-held ideas.” However you feel about where we are and where we’re headed, I think we can all agree that we are in heavy times, and angry music will buoy us onward to a conclusion.
But hey, sometimes I’m banging my head so hard it’s impossible to make sense of which way’s up and which way’s down, so I’m not always the most in tune to the lyric sheet. Still, bombastic opener “Manufacturing Truth” is a pretty good starting point/mission statement. Or, maybe the true mission statement is further down the album – penultimate track “The American Dream Is a Lie” sums up a lot of feelings within its six-word title, and you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure out what the band’s going for. You’re either on their side or you aren’t at this point.
And whether or not you go for Tyranny Is Tyranny’s politics is your call, but you can certainly enjoy a good rock record in the meantime, can’t you? If you can’t at least do that, maybe you are part of the problem. Maybe you’re in on the conspiracy. Maybe you’re going to bring down the whole thing with that attitude. Maybe you should re-examine yourself.
RIYL: United Sons of Toil, Killdozer, Jesu, Fall of Efrafa