Reviewed: [May 2021]
Released [2021 Upstate Records]
Reviewer: Peter Atkinson
Slayer probably wins the prize for horrifically ironic/eerily prescient timing with God Hates Us All, which was hitting record store shelves on the same Sept. 11, 2001, morning that planes were being crashed by terrorists into the World Trade Centers and the Pentagon in an act of “holy war.”
And while the full-length debut from Israel’s Eternal Struggle would probably have proven timely no matter when it came out – given the, umm, eternal struggles going on throughout the Middle East – things took a particular ugly turn there just before its release when Israeli/Palestinian tensions quite literally exploded right in the band’s backyard.
Though a cease fire seemed to be holding after nearly two weeks of back and forth bombardment in and around the Gaza Strip, Eternal Struggle’s hometown of Tel Aviv saw its share of action during the strife. Hundreds of Hamas rockets were fired at the city, which is situated just 40 or so miles away from Gaza and obviously well within range. So “welcome to the war!” indeed, to quote the hookline from the album’s title track.
With that backdrop, it should come as no surprise that there are ample amounts of righteous anger, frustration and progressive-minded disdain on Year Of The Gun. The album opens with a 35-second “Manifesto” and spends the next 35 minutes driving said manifesto’s talking points home by railing against “broken society” and the “broken system” with a fiery sonic blend that epitomizes “metallic hardcore.”
Eternal Struggle channels the likes of Rage Against The Machine, Agnostic Front, Pennywise, Hatebreed, Biohazard, Pantera and Sepultura with their jarring grooves, snub-nosed tempos, clattering drums and blunt-force delivery capped by frontman Ori Frank’s emphatic holler. There’s also plenty of gang-sung, shout-along vocal lines, crunching breakdowns and bulldog tenacity here that ably channel the band’s message.
Year Of The Gun arriving at a particularly fraught time in the band’s neck of the woods only makes their points – on tracks like “Pride Kills,” “Indoctrination,” “Dependence” – more valid. Yet the quartet bring a universal view to these and other songs, like “To My Enemies, “Releechious” or “Modern Slave,” that at first might seem focused only on their own surroundings. So “Propaganda,” to borrow the title of another tune, this is not.
Producer Brian “Mitts” Daniels, who played guitar with Madball for nearly 20 years, emphasizes the heavy here – and is aided by a resounding mix from Tue Madsen, who has worked with everyone from Dark Tranquillity and Meshuggah to Aborted. So the band definitely has the “metallic” end of metallic hardcore well covered. They also throw an industrial/noise twist in at the end with a remix of the title track by Atari Teenage Riot’s Alec Empire that echoes Ministry at their prime, bringing the album to a close on a bit of a mischievous note after the start seriousness of what came before.