United Sons of Toil CD review: When The Revolution Comes, Everything Will Be Beautiful
Post by Kat Kosiec on 3/2/2011 5:30pm
When the revolution comes, everything will be beautiful. When I first started listening to United Sons of Toil’s album of the same name, the protests in Madison surrounding Governor Walker’s budget bill were starting to attract worldwide attention. Civil disobedience never looked so lovely, as hundreds slept overnight in the Capitol, and the crowds, despite what Fox News will tell you, remained peaceful, even picking up their own trash. With each event that unfolded, whether it was the Democratic senators fleeing to Illinois or the City Council rushing to renew union contracts, everything in the world did seem more luminous.
Even mathematics. (Just kidding!) Math rock: I must admit that I am unfamiliar with the genre, and the name alone frightens me. Why anyone would want to associate something many of us loathe (the math) with a broad genre of music I enjoy is beyond me. It is one genre that has been used to describe the United Sons of Toil, but you don’t have to be a mathematician to appreciate the music. Math rock is typically categorized as a rhythmically complex, guitar based style of rock with angular melodies and dissonant chords. (Thank you wikipedia)
It was with great relief that I discovered that I wouldn't have to bust out my GRE quantitative section notes to appreciate the United Sons of Toil's When the Revolution Comes, Everything Will Be Beautiful. Back in 2008, United Sons of Toil released Until Lions Have Their Historians, Tales of the Hunt Shall Always Glorify the Hunter, a post-punk/math rock diatribe of vicious guitars and political lyrics about exploitation. They also sometimes perform as Leaders of Men, a Joy Division tribute band.
Where Until Lions was comprised of mostly shorter, caustic songs, When the Revolution Comes features longer compositions, which is a change in direction for United Sons of Toil. “It's a lot sludgier, and the songs are quite a bit longer,” said singer Russell Hall. “We continued to experiment with more linear (as opposed to repeating) song structures. The guitars are lot more layered and the vocals are much more varied.”
Hall also mentioned that the similarities of the vocals from song to song on their last album was a common criticism. In some songs on When the Revolution Comes, the vocals are hard to decipher but match the primal snarl of the guitar work. When the vocals are easier to hear, like on “Overturning the Rumford Fair Housing Act,” it helps bring the underlying political and social commentary in focus. While at times it’s a little too noiserock for my taste, I enjoyed the technical finesse of the guitars and the rabble-rousing lyrics. It’s hard to not get caught up in this album “sludgy songs” because they are delivered with such intensity and passion.
According to the band, the concept of the album centers around a cycle of people that resort to violence when pushed to the brink and in turn become the oppressors once they reach power. “Fundamental societal change can emerge only through radical individual change,” said Hall. With such mantras, and especially in times like these in Wisconsin, When the Revolution Comes, Everything Will Be Beautiful should be popular with more than just populist theoreticians.
United Sons of Toil CD Release party
Where: Project Lodge
When: Saturday, March 5th 7:30 p.m.
Kat moved to the Madison area in 2006 to complete her Bachelor's degree at UW-Madison. After graduation, Kat found herself unable to leave Dane County, mostly due to her love of the local culinary scene, the farmer's markets, roller derby and the dismal job prospects for a foolish young woman who chose to major in journalism. So she decided to stay and get her master's in library science. Visit Kat at her website.