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Kripes 05-06-2006 08:43 PM

Boysetsfire-The Misery Index: notes from the plague years
Equal Vision-Feb. 2006

1. Walk Astray
2. Requiem
3. Final Communiqué
4. The Misery Index
5. (10) And Counting
6. Falling Out Theme
7. Empire
8. So Long...And Thanks For The Crutches
9. With Cold Eyes
10. Deja Coup
11. Social Register Fanclub
12. Nostaligic For Guillotines
13. A Far Cry

It’s rather ironic that of all bands, Boysetsfire isn’t very well known. Lately it has become popular of many bands to take a political stance and because of it they gain in popularity (a la Green Day). But while many of those bands have been together for a while and only recently started protesting the government Boysetsfire have been since they started out. They did have a chance however to be propelled to great heights when they had been signed to a major label, but it flopped and when they were writing for this new record they were dropped. Thankfully, they were picked up by Equal Vision and then finished up their latest record, “The Misery Index: notes from the plaque years”. What is on here is emotionally and politically charged music that is very post-hardcore influenced, but also easy to get into.

“Walk Away” eloquently opens up the almost hour-long album. A lone acoustic guitar and the voice of singer Josh open things up. He croons about how he doesn’t, “want to sing about freedom anymore, I want to see it, I want to feel. I want to know that it still sits behind the lies we’ve been told, beyond the wars that keep our families from home”. Obviously this album is political, but it’s done in a very intelligent way and doesn’t ever try to say anything ridiculous. After a little over a minute of the soft acoustics everything speeds up into the older, hardcore side of Boysetsfire. The political element of the song continues though. “Our dreams are their worst nightmares, these songs a call to arms. We can dance on the graves that held us, we can change the course of time”. This is what is so great about Boysetsfire; they manage to be both inspirational and rebellious, but never get snot-nosed about it. The catchiness of the song is also a big factor too. While, for the most part, it is heavy, there are also some parts sung which gives the song a bit more of a refined taste to it. Which is how a lot of the record is.

“Requiem” (a requiem is a funeral hymn, or chant) is the lead single off of “The Misery Index: notes from the plaque years” and it really is rather fitting, but not just because it’s one of the more catchier tunes from the album. As the chorus suggests, this is Boysetsfire saying that they are not dead and gone, but are here to stay and not leaving without a fight. “This is not our requiem, we’re wasting time as victims. Why spend our lives on bended knee, choosing not to be free?” This is one song that should be downloaded, or heard by those unfamiliar with Boysetsfire and not particularly into straight up (post) hardcore. It’s a song that works greatly as both a representation of the record and a song that should gain the band a larger following.

While a lot of songs are catchy and open to a larger audience, there are a couple songs that many older fans of Boysetsfire who prefer their heavier material will enjoy. “Final Communiqué” is a short, two-minute song that never loses its pace. A rolling bass line and leering drum bit open the song before full on screaming roars on in. With lines such as, “You’ll never see us coming, striking from the shadows. Headfirst, fist raised to the sky. Pull the trigger released in anger. We’ll bite off the fingers that feed us your ****,” its plainly obvious Boysetsfire is staying by their political side. Then there is “So Long…And Thanks For The Crutches”. In a way the title could be a way of saying to the politicians in power, “Pack up your ****, you’ve doped us up long enough”. That’s how I like to think of it at least. Anyway, the song starts off in a weird way that wouldn’t suggest it’d be the mosher it really is. It starts out very jazzy with an upright bass and what seems to be a synthesized piano. After twenty-seconds though what is heard next is easily the hardest part of the whole album. The whole song is rather heavy and remains so during the chorus where the synthesized piano makes a second appearance. Not surprisingly, the lyrics to the song are meant to be motivating and encouraging. “Just enough freedom to forget you’re a slave, just enough anger to make sure we get paid” could refer to what Green Day’s song, “American Idiot”, did in talking about the media numbing the masses.

“Empire” is one song that everyone should hear. It wouldn’t be surprising at all if this turned into a single, it certainly is catchy enough. Boysetsfire takes a perspective of the people running the affairs of the world. “I speak, you throw parades. Ignore the sense of rage welling inside. Pay no mind to what we do cause we’ll sell it all to you in modern luxuries. And we’ve made quite sure you believe you’re free.” It really hits home with this part. “Just believe, believe you’re free, cause you’re on your own. It doesn’t matter just be sure that this is our empire this is war. Forgotten heroes, chessboard roles to make you think you’re something more, but you’re on your own…”

What is going to be talked about next is one of my personal favorites, “Falling Out Theme”. It’s not particularly a standout, but they way it is sung and the lyrics seem attractive to me. At first it seems to be much like, “So Long…And Thanks For The Crutches” and “Final Communiqué”, but that is not the case at all. It does start out heavy with some nice, fast paced riffs, but soon goes into almost inaudible crooning (the booklet calls it random bitching, haha) accompanied by a cello. It takes a while to get to the actual song, but it’s well worth the wait. Josh’s singing is absolutely impeccable and when he sings, “Love and weapons kill much the same way. With shaking hands we start again”, a feeling of raw energy encompasses me. The rolling drums are most noticeable during this part as well, and the jumping guitar riffs too. To add a little variety to this already superb album, there is a nice little ballad titled, “(10) And Counting”. It’s very soft and includes the use of an acoustic guitar at the start. The lyrics seem to call back to the days possibly of when they were facing tough times. The song also seems to say in a way that even though some may hate the band they will be the ones standing when everything falls apart. It’s a lot more emotional than some songs, but it doesn’t feel out of place at all.

What Boysetsfire have created is nothing short of spectacular. They’ve taken older elements of (post) hardcore music, twisted it into something meaningful, and made it widely appealing to a broad audience. Politically standing, Boysetsfire hasn’t lost their edge that they started out with from the beginning. The music may be a bit softer compared to early demos and EP’s, but they still manage to assault the senses every once in a while. Even though some songs may stand out among some others, this album really must be listened to completely in order to fully grasp how great this album is. It wouldn’t be a surprise at all for bands five to ten years from now to cite this exact record as a major influence in their life. It sure has influenced mine.


Kripes 05-06-2006 08:46 PM

I started and finished this review today. All my others are all fairly old. Just so that you guys know how I write my reviews presently.

IamAlejo 05-06-2006 09:09 PM

I might pick up this album. I try to support equal vision...they've got a lot of quality bands in their lineup.

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