Album review: Bolth, "If You Want Peace, Prepare for Class War" 

Bolth has been a presence in the Indianapolis punk scene since 2004, gracing the stage at all-ages shows, raging in basements and opening for big-name acts. They're arguably one of the most frequently billed local bands, and they've taken their speedy, screamy songs on the road in a tour van they've dubbed the Susan B. Vanthony.

Their third album If You Want Peace, Prepare for Class War says what it needs to say in eleven songs that clock in at less than seventeen minutes total. Even for hardcore punk, that's remarkably concise. The first track, "87/78," which runs sixty seconds, introduces the album as an abrasive, aggressive attack on an oppressive society. Heavy, distorted chugs and disarmingly simple drums provide the background for the opening unintelligible screams (lyrics are included in the jacket). This formula applies to the rest of the album, with a sufficient amount of permutations that keep each song separate from its fellows.

The title track starts with ska chords eschewed for ones that favor unpolished modern hardcore. "Advancements in Slavery" is unabashedly early '80s American punk with a few suspicious high-pitched guitar squeals that may or may not be included for the sake of irony. It opens with some intensely fast drum-work that seems to be produced with more passion than proficiency.

"How Many Vegans Does it Take to Screw in a Light Bulb," is an explosive clusterfuck of pent-up rage, as is "Smiling Teeth," a generalized protest against the rich whose chorus sounds remarkably like a Crass song. "Good Friday Everyday," has a menacing, bass-heavy intro section that returns as a refrain after the aggressive anger of the vocals-driven midsection. "Viva La EvoluciĆ²n" is notable for its frenetically shouted phrases ending in spoken Spanish that translates roughly to "you get what you pay for, damn rich kids."

"It Starts With the Word," is possibly the best (and longest) on the album. It goes through several movements, starting with dark, simplified surf and building effectively to their standard abrasive hardcore. It's a fascinatingly mature track, an effective protest song that could reach beyond the already converted.

The closing tracks follow the lead of prog-rock concept albums by calling themselves "Act One" and "Act Two." These serve as an excellent finale for the tone of the album, as they effectively build emotion to the level of catharsis with intense, metallic guitar and interesting choices in tempo changes, ending finally with the profound phrase: "no good in good intentions."


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