LIBERTEER – Better To Die On Your Feet Than Live On Your Knees

reviewed by Thomas Pizzola | Monday, March 26th, 2012

Better To Die On Your Feet Than Live On Your KneesSome of the qualities that make this one of the most unique and left-of-center extreme/grind releases of the year might also be the same things that turn some people off to this disc. The more conservative (as in musical taste, not political leanings) grind fan may not like this disc’s dabbling in Americana and classical music, but if they pass on this one, they are passing on one of the most interesting pieces of grind this year. In fact, its boundary pushing nature might also be the reason why it could hook fans of left-of-center extreme metal, and not just grind fans, per se. Some people just like a formula, and if you mess with it they get all bent out of shape. These people need to get more bent out of shape, and this is the record to do it.

Of course, you might have to somewhat agree on the message being presented in the lyrics, which calls for revolution and the establishment of anarchy as a political system. Still, even if you don’t go all the way with creator Matthew Widener’s (Cretin, Citizen) philosophy, there is still a lot here to enjoy in a “smash the state” kind of way. It also must be noted that Widener’s message is presented in a clear, intelligent, and non-condescending way, which is especially good, because sometimes political bands can get too preachy and full of themselves for their own good. Not here. In fact, by opening up the palette of grind, he is trying to get people to listen and draw them in, not repel, which also sometimes happens with this type of music. Still, he does espouse some extreme views on political protest, whether it be violent or non-violent.

Musically, Liberteer is an interesting mish-mash of non-noisy grind, hardcore punk, thrashy metal, classical music and some Americana in the form of Widener’s banjo playing. It’s a real compelling mixture of sounds and Widener pulls this off magnificently.

For instance, opening track, “The Falcon Cannot Hear The Falconer”, starts off with the sound of a fuse being lit, but then the brass chimes in along with the banjo. Eventually, the electric guitars kick in and it leads to the furious grind of “Build No System.” But even if the midst of this he throws a curveball, as all the instruments drop out and there is a banjo breakdown in the middle of it. The grind does return for the finish of the song.

On other songs, he pushes it farther. “99 to 1” starts out as grind but then takes a turn into electronica at the end which just leads into the full on orchestral swells of “Sweat For Blood.” A lot of this comes off as “Fanfare For The Uncommon Grind Freak” and that’s the beauty of it. There is still plenty of smash mouth grind on this record, so don’t worry, it’s just that the standard formula is messed around with in a good way.

This is one magnificent bastard of a record, one that will surely stoke the fires of revolution for years to come. Chalk one up for grind that thinks outside the box.

(Relapse Records, PO Box 2060, Upper Darby, PA 19082)