Written by Sean Tanner
BROODING PUNK TRIO DROPS "HOPEFUL" RECORD LITTERED IN SARDONIC FATALISM
Like the haunting depictions painted by Francisco Goya on the walls of his home near the end of his life, the music of AK-747s is fevered madness. Two of the aforementioned “Black Paintings” have adorned the Vancouver punk trio’s work, one on their previous release, Movies, and another on their newest, I Love What You’ve Done With The Place, recorded with Bill John Batt at Trash Castle recordings.
Oscillating between bleak, energetic, tortured, jubilant, and assailing, the new album makes good on the promises of its forebears, portraying a sludgy soundscape of ochre and black, delivered through white knuckles and clenched teeth. The whole album oozes with moody guitar riffs, jumpy bass grooves by Julien Gripp, and pulse-pounding relentless drumming by Craig Wigby. Rob Nuclear (guitar/vocals), doesn’t mince words when it comes to the events around the world, and more specifically the United States, fueling the work they’ve done.
“A virus stalks the land, the leaders of the imperial court have pretty much said that they’re willing to toss over half a million human beings into the wood chipper to keep the stock market afloat, in probably the most cynical and protracted act of mass murder in human history,” says Nuclear. “In terms of comparison to what developed in civilized countries, the United States’ act of sheer, unmitigated barbarism... it’s really quite something, it’s breathtaking in scope.”
Nuclear describes the record as having a “sardonic fatalism” to it, but there’s also “hope and personal celebration that we can have through our own personal happiness that we can create and carve out for ourselves”.
The grounded, stripped-down feel of the album lies in contrast to the grandiose themes it tackles. “OK Boomer” chastises the hypocritical self-aggrandizement of established authority, before the hypnotic clamouring and imagery of trees burning in the cold of “Real Estate” paves the way for the sombre wailing on the title track.
The title track is vividly evocative with lines such as, “And they’ll tell you what you wanna hear/ It don’t matter what you say/ Yes capital’s got the might / When the mask slips from its face”, and an even more poignant chorus, “We’ve walked on water/ For far too long/ And I don’t want to return to warring states”
“We are facing, experiencing, a civilizational collapse in slow motion,” Nuclear asserts. “It’s a stilting, wilting, degenerative decline, and it’s incredibly undignified, painful, evil. Of course, the most marginalized, vulnerable people, are the ones who get the brunt of it at the beginning. That’s why the United States right now is more concerned with demonizing trans kids when their children can’t go to school without fear of being riddled with bullets.”
He continues: “It’s a nightmarish scenario, just under half the American people are in a long term hostage situation, which does nothing but inflicts taciturn and ribald human misery while at the same time expecting them to love it. That’s what I can appreciate about other countries. Their ability to face up to challenges with the primary motivation of making sure that the masses are provided for in a material fashion. One that prevents abject poverty. The problem is that the psychopaths running the show have no sense of vision, and have no sense of common humanity.”
The band keeps dashing energy on “Shitty Deal”. It really comes out swinging when Gripp stomps that heavy distortion down on the bass about 35 seconds in. “Animal” starts out with a slower feel but quickly breaks into more of a dramatic incident, Wigby’s punchy snare fills punctuating more of Nuclear’s agonized vocals.
“The Language of Teeth” is rolling thunder, sounding the dangers of how passions can be manipulated and exploited by people looking to sew conflict.
“Any kid can start off in a world of fantasy, reading comic books and so on and so forth,” the frontman says. “They go online, to check out their interests and stuff, and you have these guys recruiting, and fuckin’ pullin' them into this stuff and turning cool shit into really nasty awful fuckin’ shit like, ‘you wonder why chicks aren’t showing their midriffs in video games anymore? It’s cuz of communism, bud.’”
Rob Nuclear’s waxing disdain for the terrorist organization known as the Proud Boys, espousers of “Cultural Marxism” conspiracies like Jordan Peterson, and racist Harvard tech bros is matched only by the love he expresses for his bandmates Wigby and Gripp, producer Bill John Batt, and fellow bands in the Vancouver punk scene.
“I’ll tell you this, the best fuckin’ bands in Vancouver are Brass, The Thing, The C U Next Tuesdays, and NEEDS. Those are the best and the coolest fuckin’ bands in Vancouver. Those are the powerhouse people that are making it happen, they got fuckin’ more heart, they got more guts, and zero pretention, and zero bullshit, and got the right attitude.”
“Life is too fuckin’ short to go around acting hard and playing games.”
I Love What You've Done With the Place is available everywhere.