Album review: Militarie Gun – Life Under The Gun

Stunning, genre-defying debut offering from idiosyncratic Los Angeles (post-)hardcore outfit Militarie Gun…

Album review: Militarie Gun – Life Under The Gun
Mischa Pearlman

Hardcore has been having a moment in the sun for a little while now. You just have to look at the phenomenal success of Turnstile to see how the genre has broken free of its own inherently underground confines.

Another case in point, thought not quite at Turnstile’s level yet, are Militarie Gun, whose song Pressure Cooker was recently featured in a Taco Bell TV ad. Before, that may have garnered accusations of selling out from an (ahem) militant punk crowd, but these days, within the trappings of a hyper-capitalist society, anything a punk band can do to survive is fair game. Besides, it’s not as if the band changed anything about their approach, attitude or style for that sync, nor what’s followed since.

Pressure Cooker might not be on Life Under The Gun, their debut full-length, but their knack for rough-edged but insanely catchy melody that defined that song is in full force on the 12 songs that make up this record. And while these tracks aren’t anywhere near as brutal as those frontman Ian Shelton made with his previous band, Regional Justice Center, they still pack a powerful, uncompromising, punch. From the insistent, belligerent bark of opener Do It Faster through to the almost R.E.M.-esque jangle that occurs midway through the closing title-track, it’s clear that Militarie Gun are a band who make music on their own terms and their own terms only.

Many of these songs are concerned with the drudgery of existence in that afore-mentioned hyper-capitalist society, especially Very High, on which Shelton offers his solution to his ennui. ‘I’ve been feeling pretty down,’ he intones in his rousing-yet-hypnotic monotone, ‘so I get very high.’

Yet while this album rails against the world our plutocratic/oligarchic overlords have created for the rest of us, it also displays a vulnerability that’s rare in hardcore and post-hardcore. Whether that’s on My Friends Are Having A Hard Time, a song that confronts the helplessness Ian feels when he sees those he cares about suffering, on the resignation (and subsequent defiance) of Will Logic, or the mournful melancholy of penultimate track See You Around, on which Ian both sings/shouts over a plaintive, haunting mellotron, he’s not afraid to be vulnerable. The latter song lasts for just two minutes before that closing title track kicks in with a surge of forceful but still unpredictable power.

It’s a thumping reminder that Militarie Gun are one of the most interesting, vital and original bands in the world of punk today.

Verdict: 4/5

For fans of: Drug Church, Drain, Scowl

Life Under The Gun is out now via Loma Vista

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