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More than a year ago, I was introduced to hardcore punk with bands such as Dayglo Abortions, Toxic Narcotic, Black Flag, and Aus-Rotten, the latter of the four being my favorite punk band. I was previously into thrash bands like Stormtroopers of Death and M.O.D. whose lyrics tend to be funny, but at other times tend to question the ideals of society, a lyrical theme I enjoy out of every topic in metal. When I heard crossover, I used to think of songs about milk and songs that jokingly pay tribute to dead musicians. Behind Enemy Lines is a crossover band that tackles political and social issues, rather than go into silly tangents a la thrash metal.
When I found a few songs on the internet, I was surprised to hear Dave Trenga, vocalist of Aus-Rotten, belting out his recognizable gritty, screaming voice. This had me hooked immediately. After buying The Global Cannibal from a local record store and listening to it, I became addicted to the sound.
There are certain parts of this album that separate BEL from other generic hardcore bands that tend to do the same thing. I tend to compare BEL to Leeway for focusing on homophony, polyphony, and musical textures rather than blast beats and fast 4-chord riffs, though they do fuse harmonies with thrash metal and hardcore punk characteristics. This is the main reason that I admire this band, for being complex without becoming so complex, it's pompous and annoying.
The vibes given with each song varies from mid-paced and dramatic, to an all out assault. The lyrics only make you feel it harder. "As Long As I'm Safe" and "The Politics Of Hunger" are great examples of setting an example lyrically of how much Americans for the most part are extremely greedy and introverted. "Hooked On Christ" and "The Army Of God" are typical anti-christian ballads, which is why I didn't give this album a 100% rating. I'm not a believer of anything, but I hate to hear the same old anti-religious stuff over and over again. The album had me at the first second, but several tracks later, it had me questioning whether or not I wanted to keep listening to the same nonsense again and again.
Overall, this album is worth every penny of the $13 I paid for it. I'm willing to check out the other two CDs, as long as they continue with the creativity, lyrically and musically. I recommend this band to anyone who is tired of the generic nature of punk bands today.
I remember the first time I ever heard the song Light It Up by Behind Enemy Lines from their album The Global Cannibal, at the time I was very much into crust punk although I had always been a big fan of death metal, thrash, and grind, and it was at about that moment in time I relaized that it was possible to mix between genres and still produce a sound and quality of music that isn't scene-ish and lame.
The first thing that caught my attentio about this whole album is it's use of down tuned guitar riffs, while it has been done previously in the crust punk and thrash genres it has never been done in my opinion to much success. On this album Behind Enemy Lines has managed to mix between mostly what I would say is thrash and crust while maintaining a very heavy and consistent sound, never too much crust, never too much thrash giving it a well balanced sound.
The second thing that caught my attention was the drummer. Let's be honest how many punk influenced bands have you ever heard with a formiddable drummer? My answer was none until discovering this band. While fast parts and punk rhythmic sections are still there the drummer seems to have a good understanding of his instrument and does not continuously wail on his open hi hat, bass drum, and snare the whole time.
Lyrically this album impressed me the most, as someone who considers himself somewhat of a far leftist thinker, this album got me listening immediately, the band obviously has deep convictions that show up lyrically in every song that they play. Revolutionary minded throughout the lyrics are well written and well constructed making them easy to follow and understand whithout long words and complicated ideas. They also manage to conver a wide range of political topics that might otherwise be ignored by many people in everyday life. I also like that the songs have meaning more than just the typical anti statist punk theology that is so common in crust inspired bands.
This album is one of my favorites and what I consider to be one of the best examples of the crossover genre today.