October 29, 2018 Sick of It All – Wake the Sleeping Dragon (Album Review)
Few bands have staying power like Sick of It All. These veterans of the New York Hardcore scene have been kicking down barriers and paving the way for contemporary bands by maintaining the heart, passion, and resolve that has fueled Sick of it All for over thirty years. On November 2nd, Sick of it All are ready to drop their twelfth LP Wake the Sleeping Dragon, and the band is here to prove that time has only made them angrier. A release that welcomes the band back to the Fat Wreck Chords family, the label is teaming up with Century Media to put out the new music.
Fighting back against systems of oppression since 1986, Sick of It All still has more than enough injustices to write about. For Wake the Sleeping Dragon, the band teamed up with longtime Producer Jerry Farley (Lamb of God/Every Time I Die) to record a new album featuring seventeen explosive tracks.
Furthermore, take one look at the ’50s Horror film-inspired album art, though, and you can see that Sick of It All are still out to have fun. Several of the tracks on Wake the Sleeping Dragon take a more subtle, tongue-in-cheek approach to lyric writing than fans might be used to. But don’t worry – there is still enough no-nonsense Hardcore here too. The band’s sound remains as powerful and timeless as ever.
Kicking things off with first single, “Inner Vision,” mind-melting raw guitar riffs and thick chugging bass lines will draw you right into this record. With all the trappings of a typical Hardcore banger, it includes a solid break down and just the right amount of “woahs,” Vocalist Lou Koller channels all his frustration with today’s society into his performance. That same power and energy does not let up through solid bangers like “That Crazy White Boy Shit” and “Self Important Shithead.”
With most songs clocking in at under two minutes, some even much shorter, there are a few tracks that blend into one another. Rather than that being a negative, however, it just proves the band’s unwavering songwriting consistency. Of course, there are several that stand out amongst the crowd. “Bull’s Anthem” taps guest Vocalists Tim McIlrath of Rise Against to create an upbeat anthem that is sure to become an instant classic.
The simple, powerhouse chord progression and killer chorus of the album’s title track are sure to get listeners on their feet. Koller urges listeners to “recognize the fact that none of us are safe” and rise as one to push back against oppression as a community. Anyone familiar with Sick of It All will find a lot to connect with in this standout track, and the same can be said of breakdown heavy tongue-in-cheek Hardcore scene commentary “Hardcore Horseshoe.”
Thick Hardcore riffs and insistent vocals drive this album, and it manages to keep an insane momentum in spite of such a hefty track list. There are few, if any, dull moments. It is great to see a band with such a storied history still producing records of this caliber. With Wake the Sleeping Dragon, Sick of It All have proved unequivocally that they still belong at the forefront of Hardcore. The band’s integrity and passion still remain, and it seems that this powerhouse four-piece will not be going anywhere anytime soon. For another solid Hardcore record, CrypticRock gives Sick of It All 4.5 out of 5 stars.