Local Music Reviews
The Apathetics = Early ’80s Judas Priest + The Menzingers + PUP
What do all punk rockers do when they reach middle age? They give up all the rage and embrace the misery. The Apathetics have done just that on their new album Last Rites and—surprise, surprise!—they have a song titled “Misery.” “I was a selfish asshole in my 20’s,” vocalist and guitarist Tyler Needham sings. “I’ll be paying for it until the day I die. Playing a suffering hero for an audience.”
Joining Needham in this midlife wreckage is Josh Leland (guitar), Ben Frank (drums) and Eric U. Norris (bass). These gentleman play like this record really might be their last rites, with a reckless abandon that, for me, falls somewhere between British Steel-era Judas Priest and the punk-pop brilliance of bands like The Menzingers and PUP. Yes, I did say Judas Priest. Needham and Leland have the metal-god, overlapping guitar swirls down and they are not afraid to unleash them. The drums and bass follow, coming at you like a runaway dump truck. The instrumentation provides the perfect combination for Needham’s punk-rock, snarl and snark vocals.
The best example of this is the face-melting “5 To Life”. The track is a punch-you-in-the-face, living-after-midnight, take-no-prisoners type of song. With plenty of “Hey! Hey! Hey!”’s and call-and-response vocals, it’s an anthem for going into the pit one last time. “Stand up! Fight back! / This is your last rite / This is your last night,” Needham sings.
Another standout track is “Burnout Generation.” Needham 100% commits to channeling Billy Joe Armstrong with call-to-arms lyrics and fist-pumping choruses. It feels like a song that would fit comfortably on any heyday Green Day record. Needham leans in to being an aging punk, shouting, “I’m running out of matches!” The Apathetics may be running out of matches, but they still seem confident in doing damage with the ones they have left.
To steal a phrase from Hunter S. Thompson, you can only be angry for so long, but you can be miserable for a lifetime. The Apathetics have delivered with Last Rites, a king-hell bastard of a record. This should not be the band’s last rites—keep punk alive! —Russ Holsten