Liberteer, Better To Die On Your Feet Than Live On Your Knees

Phil Freeman

By Phil Freeman

on 01.31.12 in Reviews
Grindcore goes symphonic

Grindcore is not typically a restrained genre. The drums blast, the guitars and bass are a downtuned roar from the gutter, and vocals are hoarse, half-mad and choking with rage, whether politically motivated or just pissed off in some ill-defined way. Liberteer, a one-man project from Matthew Widener of Cretin, aims to up grind’s revolutionary quotient while also broadening its musical palette, and it succeeds admirably. With track titles like “Class War Never Meant More Than It Does Now,” “We Are Not Afraid of Ruins,” and particularly the unsubtle “99 to 1,” Widener’s politics are crystal clear, even when his lyrics are a harsh incomprehensible bark. But it’s the music that separates Liberteer from the pack. Widener has made a symphonic grindcore album, with triumphant horn fanfares and majestic surges from an orchestra bolstering the savage, 90-second tracks. A few songs are also adorned with delicately plucked banjo, giving them a backwoods ominousness that’s more threatening than any blast beat could ever be. Better To Die…packs 17 tracks into roughly 20 minutes, every one so fast and furious (and weirdly glorious) that, blasted through loudspeakers, it could easily turn a protest march into a mass sprint.