The Honor System – 100% Synthetic EP

The Honor System
100% Synthetic EP

What is immediately clear with The Honor System’s sophomore release is that this is a band with an agenda. There is far more cynicism and seriousness than on Single File, the band’s debut for Asian Man Records. “Sanctions denied basic rights. Can’t you see the dying ones with those city eyes? America, what have you done by playing god?” asks the song “Replacement Parts.” Lyrically, the challenges continue to be made against society, politics, and so on, and the album as a whole is very sober and dark, as Dan Hanaway sings in a voice reminiscent of Bad Religion’s Greg Graffin, only not quite as convincing in his convictions.
An occasional poppier-punk vibe creeps into tracks like “Clockwork,” which at times sounds like a catchier version of Face to Face, but the majority of the album is far more somber. The transition between the two styles is gradual though, with the varying rhythms of “Replacement Parts” easing you away from the up-tempo punk-rock and more towards the mid-tempo, darker rock. This comes from continuous tamperings with time signatures in an almost post-rock fashion as well as the darkly melodic and minor-key guitar pieces. “Replacement Parts” makes for a natural progression to the title track, a slower, rhythmically challenging song with crying guitars and eerily throbbing bass. “Finding Color In Grey People” is the song on this EP that comes closest to fitting the post-rock mold, bouncing back and forth between standard punk-rock choruses and not-so-standard chaotic verses. “Witchhunt” takes a very similar route, but it rocks out a little harder at times, leading into “Conquistadors,” which is perfectly placed as the closing anthem of the album, and one of the better tracks, during which the band seems to figure it all out, meshing styles almost perfectly and leaving you craving more.
As usual, there are a few namedrops to be made. The album was recorded by Matt Allison, who has worked with everyone from Sarge to Alkaline Trio, and after parting ways with Asian Man Records, The Honor System signed on with hometown Chicago label Double Zero Records, which is run by Mike Felumlee, formerly of Smoking Popes and Alkaline Trio. The band is made up of former members of acts like Slapstick, Digger, Backslider, The Broadways, and Tuesday, connecting them to other bands like Lawrence Arms and Alkaline Trio. Notice how all of these connections are coming from the same scene, and that local support system seems to be working out quite nicely. Though The Honor System may not be the biggest of the Chicago bands, they are certainly one to keep an eye out for.