Release Date: 3/10/09
This review was initially written 3/10/09 and contains some minor edits… and is indeed a very passionate, emotion-laden review.
Propagandhi’s new album was the greatest experience in music since I got into The Beatles, since not even The Beatles’ music has made me hold back tears. Yes, you read that right, read it over again [2018 edit: yikes]. Few records have impressed me as much as this did on first listen. If you’ve never heard Potemkin City Limits (2005), this will probably take you a few listens to get in to. Potemkin took me a few listens itself, but Supporting Caste takes a lot of those sounds further. Chris Hannah’s guitar work is as impressive as always, and “the beavers” guitar work doesn’t detract from Hannah’s at all, which was something I was concerned about. I feel as if I could’ve played Potemkin City Limits and Less Talk, More Rock (1996) in front of my mom and it wouldn’t bother her, but Supporting Caste would require some more tolerance and understanding. Though perhaps not quite as much as How To Clean Everything (1993).
The album starts out with the incredible “Night Letters”, which rages out of the gate with Propagandhi’s most metal moment ever [which is still true as of 2018!]. I wouldn’t have even realized it were them until the Todd starts singing and the song explodes in all its thrash-y glory. For those still hoping for another How To Clean Everything, you won’t find it here yet again, and really should’ve stopped expecting HTCE 2 after hearing Today’s Empires, Tomorrow’s Ashes (2001). Either way, I almost feel like this album was made for me. “The Banger’s Embrace” is a great song that brilliantly contrasts the darker feel of most of the album, with a more upbeat, borderline old-school, Propagandhi sound. I’m assuming this is what Chris was referring to in saying this album mixes Potemkin with Less Talk, More Rock. This song is especially effective after following up the incredibly thrash-y “Incalculable Effects”. “Dear Coaches Corner” is probably my favorite of the slower, more melodic songs on here. It’s been stuck in my head constantly from the 2nd listen. The way he sings the opening words “Dear Ron McLean, dear coaches corner,” are sure to not leave your head.
For the fans of the short and fast songs, which has sort of been a tradition since Less Talk, More Rock, “This Is Your Life” won’t disappoint. I do kind of wish Chris would sing one of the short ones though (who doesn’t like “Rio de San Atlanta, Manitoba?!”). “Come to The Sabbat” is an interesting hidden cover track at the end of “Last Will & Testament”, a cover that is of an atypical style for Propagandhi, although it is a cover. It’d definitely be a fun sing-a-long live song. The only other minor gripe I have with this album is that I loved “Bringer of Greater Things” and “Cut Into the Earth” on Potemkin, but Todd’s songs on these ones are much thrashier and I like his melodic singing. Plus it was quite a surprise after his performances on Today’s Empires.
The lyrics on this album are less political overall, but that certainly doesn’t mean they’ve lost their edge. The lyrics are intelligent as ever, and still very well-written. The insert [2018 edit: that is, the physical CD insert. CD’s… how quaint!] is jam packed with notes from Chris and links to organizations and causes, plus some quotes, which includes a frightening quote from Hermann Goering, Hitlers 2nd in command, which you will immediately identify as happening today.
Bottom line is if you’re a metalhead who likes punk at all, get this album. If you’re really into punk rock and like thrash at all, you’ll love this album as well. If I had to sum up this album in 2 words it’d be “thrash-y” and “epic.” I wouldn’t call any track on this album filler, but standout tracks would have to be “Night Letters,” “Supporting Caste,” “Human(e) Meat (The Flensing of Sander Katz),” “Incalculable Effects,” then the rest of the album less then a step behind [2018 edit: time has altered my Highlights for this album].
Highlights: “Night Letters”, “Supporting Caste”, “Dear Coach’s Corner”, “This is Your Life”