Arson Anthem – Insecure Notoriety

By Jason Wellwood

Looking at the people involved in Arson Anthem will automatically raise expectations for this, their debut full length, pretty high. Teaming up names like Phil Anselmo, Mike IX Williams and Hank III brings visions of another Superjoint Ritual or even Down like band with an album of solid, metallic songs, clean production, and plenty of grime. Well, Insecure Notoriety does deliver on some aspects of those expectations, however not in the way most people would think.

First off, this is NOT a straight ahead metal record. This is hardcore, in the vein of early 1980’s underground hardcore (not what passes for hardcore these days). It’s hard, fast simple, messy and effective. One huge difference from the early hardcore days that I’d picked up on the EP and is carried over here, is that bassist Collin Yeo is not only audible, but he gets equal time, allowing for some excellent riff exchanging. Anselmo himself would tell you that he is no lead guitarist, and in the metal world, that’s probably true. Thankfully in Arson Anthem he is more than capable, turning in some terrifically catchy riffs and solid squeals while maintaining a sense of rhythm that a lot of today’s guitarists seem to forget when they play. Hank III is a powerful drummer, and surprisingly tasteful for hardcore. I had no idea until Arson Anthem that he could play, but apparently he was drumming in a punk band when he and Anselmo met for the first time. The speed and intensity of Williams delivery doesn’t completely mask his voice but it certainly alters it and give the venom and bile a little more pitch and distance. The kids in the front aren’t the only ones getting spit on, there’s spray hitting the wall flowers at the back too. Throw four vocalists into a punk band and you get some awesome choruses as well. Though those parts are admittedly few, it’s very effective when you have all of them shout/singing along.

Make no mistake, this is not a metal album, this is early, dirty underground hardcore for folks who loved it and miss it, and a lesson for those who have no idea what hardcore is but are open minded enough to check it out. Start here then, go find the bands that influenced Arson Anthem you won’t be disappointed.

(Housecore Records)

Sean Palmerston

Sean is the founder/publisher of Hellbound.ca; he has also written about metal for Exclaim!, Metal Maniacs, Roadburn, Unrestrained! and Vice.