Sick Of It All album reviews kind of write themselves these days with a large proportion of them either falling into the “this is no ‘Scratch The Surface’” or “it’s their best record in decades” camps, with journos being awarded extra special brownie points if they can actually manage to squeeze them both in. For yours truly it’s more of a case of how much of a battering I feel like I’ve had after each new record, because since the release of ‘Death To Tyrants’ back in 2006 I don’t think the band has put a foot wrong release wise.
That’s 12 years of almost non-stop musical perfection encompassing five studio albums, a 30th anniversary EP and God knows how many sweat soaked sold out shows worldwide. ‘Wake The Sleeping Dragon’ then (album number 5 of this winning streak and album number 12 overall from the band) is exactly what I have come to expect from Messrs Koller, Majidi and Setari, just 17 blasts of brutal hardcore at its very best.
You can try and dissect ‘Wake The Sleeping Dragon’ all you want but ultimately the Sick Of It All sound really is their trademark with no ballads, no jazz fusion interludes and not one of the songs breaking the 2 minutes and 40 seconds mark, so there’s also no “shock horror” clickbait headline to accompany this review. ‘Wake The Sleeping Dragon’ is simply the sound of the masters of the genre relishing every single second of their day job and in the process they deliver steamrolling anthems like ‘That Crazy White Boy Shit’, ‘Bad Hombres’ alongside the album’s incendiary title track, each one meticulously designed to make you lose your shirt and your mind in a frenzied mosh pit when the Sick Of It All guys come to a town near you very soon.
Having never been afraid to hold back when it comes to their lyrics, the pick of the bunch here is ‘Robert Moses Was A Racist’, a 1 minute 28 explosion of rage directed at the legacy of New York City’s “master builder” whilst in ‘Beef Between Vegans’ there is a timely nod towards the bigger discussion point of the moment, no not fucking Brexshit, but the world’s ever diminishing resources.
Short, sharp and always on point ‘Wake The Sleeping Dragon’ doesn’t so much as raise the bar for hardcore release worldwide as take a flamethrower to the bar and let the rest of the scene dance around the ashes Sick Of It All leave behind. I fucking love this album and I’m pretty sure you will too.
This is one release destined for the playlist at Daley’s Pumphouse gym that’s for sure.