Extinction A.D. – Culture of Violence Review

The only issues you’re likely to hear about in a metal song are those involving Satan, Vikings, or, in certain cases, giant cosmic slugs. The genre generally avoids engaging directly with current events–even an oldie like “War Pigs” gussies up its anti-war themes with spooky tropes. Metal is happy to borrow techniques and attitude from hardcore and punk, but for the most part it leaves the explicit protesting to its cousins and fellow outsiders. Long Island thrashers Extinction A.D. whip up a chant of “hell no” to all that, waving the equivalent of ten hand-markered cardboard signs at you for the duration of Culture of Violence. Can they get the metal community to dial in to timely issues like the corrosive effects of the twenty-four hour news cycle and, um, the riots that followed the 1992 Rodney King verdict… or will we all lose focus and wander off to learn what Baphomet and his minions have been getting up to lately?

The music itself is solid enough to hold your attention for stretches. The ten songs on Culture of Violence feature accessible thrash riffs that will keep your head bobbing and lead guitar lines that complement the rhythm section nicely. The sung choruses (“Thirteen” and “1992”) are downright catchy, and Rick Jimenez’s lyrics engage with the here-and-now instead of with goats and vomit and whatnot. In that sense, Jimenez’s hardcore vocals fit nicely with the subject matter. Extinction A.D. may be pitched at metalheads, but vibe-wise protest songs like “Star Strangled Banner” and “Praise the Fraud” have more in common with scene-adjacent acts like Rage Against the Machine and Suicidal Tendencies. Your enjoyment of the album will likely come down to whether you’re into competent but uninspired thrash, and your tolerance for vaguely worded stances on current events.

I’m one of those metal fans who usually turns to the genre for fun and escape, and nothing about Culture of Violence has me looking to mix the news with my riffs going forward. It’s not that I’m offended by Extinction A.D.‘s attempt. Far from it; as near as I can tell, I agree with just about every position they stake out on the album. The band’s complaints about the world aren’t wrong (as I see it), they just don’t bring any new insights or a specific perspective to the issues in question. A vividly rendered story song like Suzanne Vega‘s “Luka” tells you more about whatever topic is on a songwriter’s mind than Jimenez’s shouts of “it’s a fucked-up world” on closer “National Disaster” ever could. If the music were bolder or more interesting, you could ignore the blunt, beef-witted approach. Unfortunately, you could pair this standard-issue thrash with lyrics about Satan having an orgy with the political figures of your choice and it would still engage only sporadically.

The musicians of Extinction A.D. have the skill to reach for something special. The playing is polished and professional throughout Culture of Violence. The solos rip, and whatever money the band saved on cover art must have been sunk into tracking Tom Wood’s bass. He’s lavished with plenty of space in the mix, and Wood’s playing is one of the highlights of the platter. Given their skill, it’s easy to imagine these guys putting on an amazing show. That scans with their extensive record of touring in support of great bands like Cattle Decapitation. But alas, music that kills it in a live setting doesn’t always translate to record.

If you’re looking to wallow in the problems of the day, or if you want to revisit riots from 30 years ago, Culture of Violence has got you covered. If you’re looking for thrash that pushes the genre forward, you’ll have to look elsewhere. Extinction A.D. have undeniable talent, but they’ve released an album of solid songs that gets tedious as the lack of variety accumulates. They’d do well to channel their obvious passion into better, more specific songwriting.

Rating: 2.0/5.0
DR: 4 | Format Reviewed: 256 kb/s mp3
Label: Unique Leader Records
Releases Worldwide: March 18th, 2022

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