Before you even put this record anywhere near your hifi you’ll be blown away by it. Quality from every angle. The cover is matt-finished heavyweight charcoal-coloured card, the image dripping with menace as the Christ figure, draped in the Stars n’ Stripes, stands triumphant in front of a burning cross. With the tracklisting printed in pale red Gothic type, you just KNOW this record is gonna be unrelenting.
THEN you get to the book that comes with the album. Although I’ve not seen the CD version of this, I’d strongly recommend getting the 12″ vinyl and doing it justice. Because the booklet with the vinyl is also 12″ (and 48 pages), while the CD one is CD-sized (and 64 pages), and you’ll appreciate it much more at this size. A screaming angry God, punching out with a ‘HATE’-tattooed fist, faces you from the glossy card cover. Open the book and you’ll find pages of intelligent and venomous lyrics married perfectly to poster images of Dubya and his cohorts emblazoned with slogans that show them in their true light. It is a visual treat and a political education.
THEN you slide the clear red vinyl out of its protective sleeve and prepare (or so you think) for what comes next. But you’re not ready, and shiver involuntarily as the dark malevolent tones of Big Brother (aka Richard Burton) creep from your speakers and target you as if you yourself were Winston, in that room, alone, vulnerable, afraid. What hope is left? And who carries its banner?
The answer is Behind Enemy Lines. But don’t expect it to be an easy one. This band slice open the underbelly of the neocon fundamentalist programme that is the U.S. of A and lay bare the entrails. As each layer is exposed, their apocalyptic desires are dragged forth from the shadows. And as the lie is revealed and the truth unveiled, the anger builds. How DARE they? Who are these people to twist and pervert all that is good for their own malevolent ends? What right do they have to enslave millions by word and by deed, to use us as mere currency in their blood-soaked transactions?
These songs tell the truth. The nightmare that even Orwell couldn’t imagine is detailed in the opening two tracks, ‘George’s Vision’ and ‘Faceless’, and the ease with which the masses comply. They invite a cold, hard look at ourselves. The war in Iraq and its devastating consequences are also unveiled, from the growing despair and hatred amongst the occupied populations (‘Retribution’), via the closed cells where ‘interrogation erodes into inhumane torture’ (‘American Rape Rooms’), and ending in the almost necrophiliac exploitation of the young American corpses as they are returned to their loved ones (‘Molesting The Dead’). Having given their lives, the vultures will still pick the bones clean.
But even as the war machine is funded without thought, not so far away another child dies in pain, fear and poverty. How can this be allowed to happen? As genocide rips through Darfur, ‘we sit and debate while the militias bathe in blood’ (‘Turning A Blind Eye’). And as the corpses in the third world mount ever higher, we benefit directly from the cash crops, labour, resources and oil that their deaths paid for (‘Third World Blood’). Privilege exacts a terrible price. Yet even that privilege is nothing more than a sop to keep us mollified. Our masters will keep squeezing us too, maybe not so brutally, but the end result isn’t too dissimilar.
With the rest of the tracks combining to make the connections between religious fundamentalism, fascism, ecological destruction, corporate power, media control, economic privilege and class, Behind Enemy Lines pull no punches lyrically or musically with this release.
Information is power and this record is an incendiary device.
Download sample track – ‘Gutter Religion’
OP’s opinion: @@@@@