Strike Anywhere – To Live in Discontent

Strike Anywhere
To Live in Discontent

Compilation CDs aren’t usually fan favorites (example: Snapcase), but Richmond, VA’s Strike Anywhere avoids that stereotype. Just released on Jade Tree Records, this collection chronicles the five-year existence of Strike Anywhere, a outspoken punk-rock band. To Live in Discontent is the title of the band’s new collection of B-sides, rare tracks, and three cover songs (Gorilla Biscuits, Dag Nasty, Cock Sparrer). On “Chorus of One,” vocalist Thomas Barnett defiantly yells out the album title, setting the stage for an urgent affair of punk and hardcore.

Opening with “Asleep,” the band’s first song ever, a Strike Anywhere sound is established (and “asleep” doesn’t describe it). Screaming and yelling vocals, melodic guitar runs, and even a taste of gang vocals lead off the CD. The band follows with another track off its first 7″ called “Antidote.” The balance of melody and aggressiveness is of expert proportion, and it’s a similar style to newer acts like Comeback Kid. Massive shout-out singalongs in “Antidote” bring the punk rockers into hardcore territory. “Notes on Pulling Down the Sky Down” starts out acoustic, then the power of a distorted electric guitar obliterates the serenity. It’s a dynamic style that select melodic hardcore bands like With Honor and Verse are also attempting these days.

The live cover of “Two Sides” by Gorilla Biscuits is another highlight. The original track is from Start Today, the 1989 landmark hardcore CD that introduced melody into the typical formula. Connecticut band With Honor plays “Forgotten” on almost every stop of its tour. With so many artists covering GB songs these days, it’s surprising no one’s assembled a tribute album. Anyhow, Strike Anywhere’s “Two Sides” version nails everything, even the tricky harmonics at the very start. Strike Anywhere’s message heavy nature makes GB an ideal band to cover. “Two Sides” is a rally cry against judgmental people who “think they’re always right, and right is all they’ll ever be.” Fresh off the Rock Against Bush tour, this oldie can really be seen as a metaphor for Strike Anywhere’s current political sentiments. The production is crystal clear, and the “Two Sides” cover sounds like a remastered version of the original.

Having never heard any actual Strike Anywhere releases before this, I was really impressed. This could have fooled me for a studio album if I hadn’t read the booklet. There’s a consistency of good songwriting and sound quality that I didn’t expect a mashup of songs to possess. To Live in Discontent isn’t simply a ‘diehard-only’ release, and I would suggest this to any fan of fast, melodic punk rock and hardcore.