released 15 October 2013 on Selfmadegod
“back to work another day,” unapologetically — but complexly — proletariat agitators
in 2013’s Them. The group was
prompted to reform and write new material because Selfmadegod wanted to release
their entire discography, and Them is
literally where Satanic Malfunctions left off twenty-two years ago — the next fruit
of their abiding discography. Malfunctions have matured since the late 80’s — happily,
there’s no awkward whining here — and are preserved in better-than-perfect form.
Them is classic anarcho-thrash from
the U.K. streets: the drum kit is more bucketbeating than percussion, and
accented voices scrabble out “1, 2, 3, 4!” Thank goodness for gravelly screams,
gritty streets, pamphleteering lyricism and an adrenaline-fueled ruckus. Yet,
although they’re true to aesthetics, Them
is focused on semantics.
progressivism — this is a band that can
use the word “philistines” (“On Your Knees”), and not let you think — Satanic
Malfunctions are a mixture of self-reliance, populism and turn-about anarcho-
anti-crowd (anti-system: if you’re not us, you’re [Them]!) frustration, just as “Everything’s Digital” can’t even
strike (“I want to work, I want to!”), “Pissed & Angry” cinches (“I’m gonna
buy some smokes tonight”), and the closing track decries the “Many Go Round.” Though
promoting critical thought, Them
appraises the dangers of syndicalism in any form (“Rules & Regulations”
pleads, in a remarkable moment, “Just tell me what to do!” and “No Masters Or
Slaves” asks, “The question / the question / the question of faith!”). Per
2013, technological bewilderment is also targeted: obligatory 27-second drum
smasher “Technological Religion” begins, “Children of God / spend your poker
stellar performance. Satanic Malfunctions finally appear as a quartet (Ade (d),
Kai (vox), Ryan (b-g), Yaga (e-g)) where they had lacked a bassist in the 80’s.
The bass contributes a minimized but fundamental tone that grounds the whole
endeavor. However, the production might have augmented the low-end treatment a tad more without losing the mid-range
disgruntled-and-compressed socially-and-sonically-downtrodden timbre of the
discography, way more than a comeback. Especially strong pieces include “Them,”
“Daze of the Weak,” “On Your Knees,” “Lies,” “Anthem,” “Rules & Regulations”
and “Many Go Round” — but really, you can’t go wrong with any of Them. Opener “Nothing New” surprises the
listener with some Big Ben to set the scene, “Daze Of The Weak” features
terrific ad libbed calls and
yowls, “On Your Knees” displays that syllable-shrinking
British power, “Lies” showcases brutal bucketbeating, and “Gospel Truth” flaunts
its angry bombastic breaks.
agents of the proletariat and the agents of lawfulness are iterations of Them, also improves on Satanic
Malfunction’s precedent. It’s not often that you get to watch a comeback album
enhance a band’s legacy. And let’s be clear — these guys aren’t Active Minds,
Blitz, or Heresy, but it’s thrilling to hear material recorded and released in
2013 that sounds like this.
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