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Heart Like War
Thumper Punk Records
Release date: June 7, 2016
Punk rock has a long history of inspiring music that is intended to be the soundtrack to a cultural revolution. Beyond just challenging authority, pop punk has been a voice for the disenchanted, and a soapbox for proponents of individualism. Heart Like War, like their punk rock predecessors, is a band on a mission. The California based trio has a lot to say on their ten track debut for Thumper Punk Records. Like the other bands Thumper Punk has released, Heart Like War makes high quality Christian themed punk rock that is on par with the albums being put forth by far more high profile labels. The result is a solid platter of high energy songs with melody and vision.
Opening with a battle cry, “Bring It On” roars forward with the kind of anthem that would grace a Pennywise album. Vocalist/guitarist David Camarena sings about facing life head on and winning. A bass breakdown courtesy of David Robledo brings to mind the urgency and creativity of Rancid’s Matt Freeman. Drummer Andrew Camarena drives these songs forward as the listener is swept into the next track, “Media Zombies.” The band hits an MxPx stride which is prevalent throughout these tracks, especially in David Camarena’s vocals. “Media Zombies” is a call for people to think for themselves, rather than simply take everything presented by news outlets as gospel. This theme is echoed later in “Boy Meets World” as the listener is reminded “there’s a life outside your screen.” Its apparent Heart Like War has a lot to say.
While the band bears the Christian label, most of the songs would fit quite well on mainstream radio. Thematically, the songs focus on a positive outlook despite life’s difficulties. “Screaming” proclaims “scream your head off for the underdog” and channels the influence of the Bouncing Souls. “Never Be A Zero” speaks of ‘breaking up all your problems and smashing up all your doubts.” Sure, there are obvious Christian messages, as in the song “Faith.” The band makes it clear that their faith is an important part of life that can’t be compromised. Isn’t that what punk rock is about – not compromising and standing your ground? While punk songs run the breadth of human experience from nihilism to silliness, Heart Like War’s positive outlook is refreshing.
Musically, Fired Up has a lot in common with the best punk bands of the 1990s. Lyrically, they use the medium as a way to reach people, not much differently from how Dead Kennedys or Minor Threat did, just with a message that doesn’t focus on negativity as much as those legendary bands were known for. Heart Like War have created an album they can be proud of. One that has the fierce drive of an indie band fighting their way up through the ranks, and a sound that is tight, mature, and ready to take the punk rock world by storm. Fired Up is my favorite punk album of the first half of 2016, and it’s going to take something pretty amazing to beat it for the title of punk album of the year.
Reviewed by Jim 1340