The Austerity Program - Backsliders and Apostates Will Burn
Record Label: Hydra Head
Release Date: May 4, 2010
The Austerity Program doesnít try to hide anything. The guitar-and-bass duo makes no secret of their reliance on a drum machine. They make no attempt to make their grotesque lyrics sound pretty or even slightly, in the academic sense, melodious at all. The rigid, relentlessly steely guitar tone is just about uniform throughout Backsliders and Apostates Will Burn, and the song structure doesnít venture far beyond quiet-loud-quiet-loud-quiet-REALLY LOUD.
The four-song, under-20-minute EP is as true to the bandís name as a piece of art, a medium that is abstract by nature, can possibly be to the concrete definition of a word. According to Princetonís WordNet, the word austere means ďseverely simple.Ē In The Austerity Programís case, the definition would work just as well if you switched the words around; itís as if Thad Calabreseís daunting basslines are the deep creases in the Grim Reaperís unhooded face and Justin Foleyís unforgiving vocal delivery is the reaperís groan telling you everythingís not going to be alright, no matter what they taught you in school.
The music is either incomprehensibly innovative or incalculably obtuse; the tempo barely changes song-to-song and the musical body of the entire EP is a presumably open D chord of varying levels of intensity and volume. The femur-crushing, oppressively low-end guitar bass rhythms are interesting enough to keep the ear guessing at first, but the patterns become borderline predictable by the time the first onslaught of mechanical drum pulses fizzles out in each song.
But austere as Backsliders may be, The Austerity Programís approach to sharing and promoting their music couldnít be more lighthearted. The press release the Hydra Head sent with the EP is jarringly hilarious: ďThree years after they released their debut full length, The Austerity Program are back with not even twenty minutes of music - a four song EP. You are not us, their label, and so you have no idea how much this absolutely infuriates us.Ē The bandís Ďaboutí section on their sleek, minimalist MySpace projects that same aura of nonchalance: ďHi. If you'd like to know more about us or contact us, please visit www.austerityprogram.com. We will try and manage this site but for God's sake, we got other things going on in our lives.Ē
In a way, The Austerity Programís facetious marketing strategy represents the band more than the actual music does. The music almost pokes fun at itself by being painfully and quite markedly oversimplified. Rarely do we see a band sing about such dark, dismal motifs in front of a black cloud of music thatís unpretentious almost to a fault. Itís even more rare to see two married dudes with their lives together make decent hardcore music in between nine-to-fives.
Iíve purposely neglected to take a firm stance on this album until now. To me, an as-of-late merely casual fan of hardcore (or whatever you want to label this particular band), the music is neither offensive nor outstanding. But the idea behind Backsliders, to me, is more powerful than the music. Itís the notion that sometimes just one chord packs more punch than a ď45 minute, seven part epic songĒ that was allegedly promised to the label ďthree goddamn yearsĒ ago. The Austerity Program gets their point across, musically, lyrically, and otherwise, with no more flash or fanfare than is necessary. Whether Iím in love with the music or not, thatís an idea I canít help but get behind.
Hey man. I would like to say that I think you're a hell of a writer, for whatever that's worth. Post some more reviews, they really stick out among most user reviews. It's refreshing.
Sorry I'm just seeing this now...but thank you! I'll be posting a lot more in the coming weeks, especially with school winding down for a bit. But that's really good to hear, especially since that's what I'm going to school for.