Punk veterans Strike Anywhere have signed to Pure Noise Records and announced the band's first new music since 2009.
Nightmares Of The West might be Strike Anywhere's first new music in over a decade, but in some ways the five-piece hasn't changed at all. These seven songs - six brand new originals and a cover of "Opener" by London punks Blocko - are as full of fire and fury as anything the band has written since forming in Richmond, VA in 1999. At the same time, this EP infuses the band's ideological vision with the perspective its members have now, both as people in general, but also as political activists and musicians currently living in the USA - somewhere that's markedly different from how it was when Iron Front, their last album, was released in 2009.
"We wanted to write things that we felt really fresh about and that revealed something new," explains vocalist Thomas Barnett. "It was almost like this refresh, this restart, where we found ways to write songs that not only moved us, but also reflected the times and our ages. But we definitely feel inspired, and this record is a platform for us to hopefully - in time - play shows, connect with community, and help keep those little fires lit in ourselves and in others through the music and those shared experiences. These songs are the conversations that we want to have and the feelings that we still really need to share."
Recorded, like the band's four albums to date, at Salad Days Studio in Baltimore by Brian McTernan, Nightmares of the West starts with the blistering "Documentary" - a song riddled with an overwhelming sense of loss, and contempt and disgust with what society has become - before crashing into the impetuous, breathless rush of "Dress The Wounds." Elsewhere, "Frontier Glitch" is an aggressive yet melodic burst of defiance and pissed-offness that also contains the line from which this EP takes its powerful, provocative title - one that cements, if there were any doubt, the purpose and the meaning driving these songs.
"It's speaking to what's happening now, obviously," says Barnett. "This system, this machine, this view of history has deep, fatal flaws. And it's not just something for people to talk about academically, or, you know, in little groups, like this is something that is writ large now, when it hasn't been in our lifetimes. And the critical failures of the view of America that the view of capitalism equating with freedom, the view of nation states, all this stuff that's past its sell-by date, itself, like these ideas, that were flawed to begin with, and nobody was honest about it. And now, unprepared as fuck, here we are, and we really need to say 'Okay, look, we can reorganize this. This thing happened 200 years ago, or the western hegemony of the globe happened 400 years ago and these were deep missteps. And we can either annihilate ourselves by trying to justify it to death, or - to quote the Bouncing Souls - we can find what's good and make it last."
That, then, is exactly what Strike Anywhere are doing with these songs. But more than that, they're also turning the negatives in positives. For while there might be a sad tenderness at the heart of "Imperium Of Waste," out of it springs a hope and an optimism that transcends and overpowers the emotions and experiences that inspired it. Similarly, the Blocko cover pays tribute to that band's drummer, Marc 'Mates' Maitland, who took his life in 2019 - a way of keeping his memory alive while acknowledging how time keeps moving on for all of us - and always will. To that extent, the point of Nightmares Of The West is to understand that, and to understand that despite of all the injustice in the world, it's still important to fight the good fight, to find solace in friendship and community, in order to heal on both a micro and a macro level. That's something encapsulated by final track, "We Make The Road By Walking," the sentiments of which embody the EP's overall attitude - that no matter what has happened, and no matter what might and will happen, we have to always continue walking forward towards something better, as well as strive to be better ourselves .
"This has to be about healing," says Barnett. "It has to be about looking deep and understanding that we're all still in this together. And this shit is getting harder. And it's a lot of the same stuff that bands have been talking about, that people have been protesting and laying down their lives for. It's not even about having all the answers, but finding that strength is really important. It's really important to stay in the game and to feel love, and to feel like your family - and everyone and everything around you - is worth fighting for. That's all this band has been trying to say for 20 years and counting, but it's the project of a lifetime."
Nightmares of the West is set to be released on July 17, 2020 via Pure Noise Records.
- Dress The Wounds
- The Bells
- Frontier Glitch
- Imperium Of Waste
- We Make The Road By Walking