Artist – The Raging Nathans
Album / Label – Oppositional Defiance / Rad Girlfriend Records
Rating – 9/10
There are many who talk a good game, chests puffed out and strutting around like they are the greatest thing since sliced bread. Then there are those that “walk the walk,” the weight of their actions speaking volumes. And when your credo is “We came. We saw. We ripped it,” you had better be able to deliver the goods.
The Raging Nathans fall squarely within the “walk the walk” category. Arguably one of the hardest working punk bands today, their prolific output of full-length albums, an EP, a compilation album and numerous split 7” records shows no sign of slowing any time soon. Their latest effort, Oppositional Defiance, is available on Rad Girlfriend Records.
With this being their first album as a four-piece, Josh Goldman (vocals/guitar), Nick Hamby (guitar/vocals), and Patrick Cost (drums) are joined by Christian Roerig (bass), giving them added depth and the freedom to stretch out musically. Added to that is a bare, bordering on uncomfortable, honesty running throughout the album that pulls no punches.
The album starts with the instrumental Tragedy Ghouls: An Introduction. The band heard about the mass shooting in Dayton, Ohio last year while they were on tour in Europe. After returning home, Goldman painstakingly compiled all the audio clips from various news media outlets as a cathartic ode to what happened. The band adds an underlying soundtrack that compliments with its frenetic pace.
This transitions directly into One Day Closer, a fast-paced number with the band as tight as can be. Poignant, yet somewhat melancholic lyrically, they speed through the song while dropping memorable lines, such as “Every day I’m alive is one day closer to death…”
Every time you find yourself thinking about a long-lost friend, Where Ya Been? is the tune that makes you realize time waits for no one. It’s a hook-laden number, full of wonderful harmonies, that resonates loudly and should be on radio station playlists nationwide.
Cost tattoos a rolling drum beat to start Don’t Miss The Train, before it settles into another lament of memories still squarely in the past. The discordant guitar notes scattered throughout are a bit jarring, but somehow manage to add to the song rather than detract from it.
Parole Violation is a straight up, balls to the wall, fast-paced punk rock song. A cautionary tale based on a true story, the band leaves the listener breathless with the relentless tempo, punctuated with excellent harmonies.
The band keep the heat applied with Signals. The juxtaposition of sonic happiness with lyrics that delve into self-doubt are a feat that many bands attempt, but few pull-off. Full of hooks, this number vacillates between joy and sadness, ultimately consigning itself to the notion that there are a finite number of times one can look for a sign that you really care about what the author is going through.
Outside keeps the pedal to the metal, with the lyrics full of melancholy lament about the inability to change continuous cycle of life repeating itself.
You Are Not Me is a song that drives home the fact that certain people in our lives want to bring everyone into their drama. Once again, the band have a melodic happiness that underscores the lyrical tales of moving on after having endured enough of someone that wants to make everything all about them.
The harmonies stand out on Big Mouth, a number that many can relate to with its “I have no fucks to give” attitude. With a slight pause between songs, the band roll right into their cover of The Ex-Boyfriends Stargazing. The original was released in 2011 on Rad Girlfriend Records. Once again, the band does a wonderful job with the harmonies on this tune.
The frenetic pace returns with Old Blood, as they delve right back into the darker recesses of the author’s mind. The song makes you wonder if there’s light at the end of the tunnel, or if you should just surrender yourself to the demons within.
The album comes to its conclusion with Spoiled Brat, with a fast tempo that rounds-out the twelve tracks rather nicely. The choice between continuing or giving up is front and center, wondering how long is too long to keep going down this path. The band punctuate the number with a relentless pace that belie the tension-filled lyrics, again.
Clocking in at just 29 minutes, The Raging Nathans waste no time on Oppositional Defiance. While much of the album’s lyrical content borders on darkness, there is a glimmer of hope that pokes through as you listen to the album. While it can make the listener uncomfortable, taken in its entirety it is a collection of songs that offer a thread of hope to keep pushing on.
This is, by far, the best album the band has released to date. I would put this album up against any of the bands that are currently playing on your radio or touring nationally.
Yes, these twelve songs are just that good.
- Tragedy Ghouls: An Introduction
- One Day Closer
- Where Ya Been?
- Don’t Miss The Train
- Parole Violation
- You Are Not Me
- Big Mouth
- Stargazing (The Ex-Boyfriends cover)
- Old Blood
- Spoiled Brat
Check out The Raging Nathans appearance on The Cat Club Podcast HERE
The Raging Nathans – Parole Violation