Statements on the pulse of time - A review of GrimSkunk's Unreason in the Age of Madness
GrimSkunk's Unreason in the Age of Madness marks the thirtieth anniversary of Quebec's most influential alternative rock band. The band still offers a multitude of influences on this record, varying from angry punk music over psychedelic rock elements and folkloric ska melodies to crossover rap passages.
The band's last record Set Fire! six years earlier had been quite political as it had dealt with topics such as the Quebec student protests, public surveillance and moral bigotry. This is still the case this time around as GrimSkunk has managed to release an inspired record on the pulse of time. The angry opener ''Let's Start a War'' includes lyrics such as ''Welcome to the police state, protect the people with guns and hate'', the fast and concise ''Dead Before You Start'' describes a ''baby in a White House, fascists on the rise, no power to the people, I can't believe my eyes'' while the more melodic and upbeat but equally meaningful and powerful ''Gimme Some Revolution'' proclaims it's ''time to rise up, take our freedom back, give the corporations a heart attack, shock treatment for the dormant mass, billionaire bastards up your ass''. Every song on this record has a message, from a stance against the right to bear arms in the clever ''The Right to Bear Harm'' to a statement against the downsides of social media in the elaborate closer ''Computer Screen'' with its unusual breaks and haunting piano sounds.
Since ten angry punk rock songs would be too tough to digest, GrimSkunk experiments with jazzy and psychedelic soundscapes thanks to additional trumpet sounds and cleverly employed keyboards recalling organ sounds in ''Hanging Out in the Rain'', offers an inspiring spiritual ballad with the wonderful ''Starlight'' and comes along with the rhythmic and melodic reggae anthem ''Same Mistake'' featuring relaxed backing vocals, smooth horns and danceable timbale rhythms.
The new album might only include ten tracks and have a running time just below forty minutes but every song is great musically and lyrically. Thirty years into its career, Unreason in the Age of Madness might be GrimSkunk's best record ever along with Fieldtrip which was released twenty years ago. The band also released the strictly limited Harvest EP with four exclusive songs last November that complements this release very well. Since the new material is so great, you should go see the band in concert and I would suggest the band to come around with a new live album at a certain point since the last one is already fifteen years old.
On a closing side note, it's quite revealing that this right album at the right time had to be released by a Canadian band and not by an American one.
Final rating: 10/10