ARTIST: RAISED FIST
WORDS: JAMES HOLDER
After over a quarter of a century together and with 6 full length albums behind them, Swedish Hardcore Punk outfit Raised Fist face a different kind of challenge with new album ‘Anthems.’ The band’s task isn’t solely to make a memorable record, it’s to make something that still sounds fresh and exciting, which will give even the longest tenured of fans something to latch on to. On this evidence however, it is a challenge that the quintet have failed to overcome.
That’s not to say that ‘Anthems’ doesn’t have it’s bright moments, because there are some undeniable highlights. Opening track ‘Venomous’ sets the standard for the rest of the album. It’s big, it’s loud and concise and to the point. These guys are not a band to stand on ceremony, with each song being nothing short of balls to the wall energy, ignoring any kind of subtlety like the plague. While the frantic, chaotic hurricane of energy that is ‘Seventh’ lives long in the memory well after the album is over. But the problem is that not only are these highlights only really found at the start of the album, they prove to be few and far between.
“It’s big, it’s loud and concise and to the point.”
Although, even then, ‘Anthems’ is an album that frustrates as much as it openly disappoints. There are flashes of inspiration, a thundering riff here and there, or a dark and punchy intro but these glimpses are all to frequently not followed up. Furthermore, everything is so full throttle that after a while the songs begin to get lost in the hubris of it all. The frenetic, rapid fire vocal style of Alexander Hagman wears thin very quickly, although his attempts at a more classic rock vocal on the chorus to ‘Oblivious’ sound strained at best, and simply don’t work.
However, it is lyrically where the album frankly falls apart. The song writing is uninspired and feels like the band just going through the motions. The songs lack spark, and on the whole don’t really say anything at all. ‘Murder’ is a particular lowlight in this regard. Simply yelling “We are Raised Fist, this is how it is!” just isn’t going to get it done, even for the most casual of fans. It’s lazy and frankly, downright cringeworthy.
“All of the band’s trademark energy and quick-fire style is on display, it’s just backed up with very little else”
Despite all of the above, throughout most of the album ‘Anthems’ isn’t that bad of a listen, it’s just that there’s nothing that makes it stand out as especially good either. It’s merely ok, too polished, too slick and simply too safe. There’s plenty of energy, and there’s no doubt that each of the 10 tracks was designed to make an impact live, and they surely will, but that isn’t quite enough to carry an entire album.
Raised Fist have always enjoyed a reasonable level of popularity at home, but at the same time have consistently flown under the radar internationally. And ‘Anthems’ is unlikely to change that. It sounds like a band who have been together for over 25 years ticking the boxes on another album. All of the band’s trademark energy and quick-fire style is on display, it’s just backed up with very little else. As a genre Punk is edgy, creative and raw. Sadly, everything that ‘Anthems is not.