Punk rock has the true redeemers of its genre, and Propaghandi sits among them all. While bands like NOFX continually dish out its brand of pop culture reflections and humorous antics, bands like Propaghandi stand as chaotic punk on the fucked up level. As self-proclaimed “veganarchists,” those who have both anarchic and vegan viewpoints, the most obvious aspect of this juxtaposition is political and social commentary. Here in the progressive 2009, after the U.S. has elected its first black president, Canadian act Propaghandi has become less punk and more heavy metal, but remains equally brutal and open-minded on the stunning album Supporting Caste.
Within the context of Propaghandi’s usual subject matter, there is no stone left unturned. Supporting Caste begins with the apocalyptic opener “Night Letters”, which comes fully packaged with duality all on its own, through longing for lost loved ones and watching the “world implode.” Picking up the pieces soon after is the title track, a supreme exercise in lyrical prowess:
Cause history exalts
only the pornography of force
that of murderers and psychopaths
(the rest of us, of course,
stricken from the narrative wholesale:
a back drop to the tale)
as we, the two-bits,
are ushered on and swiftly off this stage
with the jawbones of asses.
No stirring curtain call for the masses.
No floral bouquet. No breaking of legs.
No recurring role. No artistic control.
Aside from the expected criticisms of culture from Propaghandi, the poetic craftsmanship here speaks for itself in regards to songwriting talent. This is not something we often see in the age of pop punk or the over saturation of concept albums. Looking back, an album like Less Talk, More Rock was a solid punk record that lived true to its name, while in our sights today, Supporting Caste has true elements of punk meshed into some very epic metal portions. The downside is sometimes the co-habitation works, and sometimes it does not. Those facts alone keep the record shy of the five-star mark, but not without kicking a little ass in the meantime. The ball busting starts with “Human(e) Meat (The Flensing of Sandor Katz)”, a disturbing image focusing on the band’s vegan beliefs, with a concept that sounds cribbed from a Cannibal Corpse record. Ironically enough, this resigns to a more upbeat texture that makes the song a keystone addition, and something accessible to newcomers.
It’s natural to assume most people will ask how a vegan band could be equally relevant to omnivore listeners. The answer is, quite frankly, to look beyond that fraction of Propaghandi’s message and into the musical skill of the band. The songs are forceful and message driven. They provide a nearly accurate depiction of how punk rock should be musically – aggressive, entertaining and rebellious (even if all of the above amounts to a bloody fist fight in the mosh). There are a few downers, however, those that just dont quite fit. “This Is Your Life”, clocking in at just a few seconds over a minute, clashes with the lengthier tracks present here, and makes for a somewhat disjointed listen. These are minor gripes, though.
On the whole, Supporting Caste is a true punk record, albeit with metal influences that don’t always queue up to previous releases like Less Talk, More Rock. For what it is, this release is a collection of great work from a great punk band. For what it’s not, Supporting Caste stands as one of 2009’s best albums, although it is not the best. Merciless and endearing, Supporting Caste is a shining star in the Propaghandi catalog.