Some band names require no exploration. Death, or Grave, for instance. Standard death metal band names obsessed with mortality. For No Fealty, a political hardcore crust/grind band from Copenhagen, I admittedly had to do a little research. It turns out “fealty” has the following definition: The fidelity, or an oath of loyalty, of a vassal or feudal tenant to their lord. So it’s safe to say that in No Fealty’s world, if you’re one of the 1% you better watch your privileged ass. Combine that with the (awesomely) disturbing cover, and there’s enough fury here to inspire god to eat his cherubs.
Leaning a bit more on the grind side of the spectrum than traditional hardcore punk, No Fealty peel through twelve tracks in about 25+ minutes on In the Shadow of the Monolith. The album title would be perfect for a classic doom album by Candlemass, but it’s just as poignant here, referencing the nearly unfathomable amount of tyranny and oppression we face (and often ignore) daily. Well, this is one album that’s impossible to ignore. Beginning with the pissed-off stomp of “Deprivation,” the album slams ahead like the first furious charge of a rioting crowd. There are plenty of surprises and enlightened moments of texture here, with the thrashy groove of “Strict Seawater Diet” and the chilling, cold-blooded sludge of “Discomposure” being especially memorable. And of course there are the burners that rage forward at a thousand miles an hour, destroying everything casting a shadow; “Animalism” bares its teeth with prominent bass work, “Savior” takes a jab at D-beat punk with Ramming Speed’s intensity, and “Rabies God” closes the album like a smear of blood on a church’s front door.
There are a few choices that don’t work for me, like the momentum-killing audio clips and spacey atmospherics of “The Emperor is Laughing (While You are Making Plans),” and a queasy bridge riff (around 2:15) in “Feed the Leviathan,” but these are minor complaints compared to the overall unruly energy and DIY, buzzsaw-guitar aesthetic the album successfully captures. When No Fealty employs gang vocals (like in “Damnant Quod Non Intelligunt” and “Deprivation”), that manic approach translates even further to a unified voice of unrest and anger. In the Shadow of the Monolith may not be totally revolutionary in style and execution, but it’s definitely the soundtrack of a rebellion. Combining the blazing speed of Weekend Nachos with the political sludgy, hardcore punk of Ravage Ritual, there’s plenty to look forward to in No Fealty’s future, even if humanity’s future doesn’t seem quite as bright.
Listen to In the Shadow of the Monolith, available now as a “name your price” download over at Bandcamp: http://nofealty.bandcamp.com/album/in-the-shadow-of-the-monolith
And check them out on Facebook for news, including their account of their recent record release show: https://www.facebook.com/nofealty