FREELOADER: THE UNITED SONS OF TOIL’S WHEN THE REVOLUTION COMES, EVERYTHING WILL BE BEAUTIFUL
Welcome to the latest edition of “Freeloader,” in which we review albums that you don’t have to feel like a douche for downloading for free. Today Satan Rosenbloom checks out When the Revolution Comes, Everything Will Be Beautiful by The United Sons of Toil.
In plenty of forms of extreme music, where confrontation is de rigueur and soapboxing is a national pastime, the music’s sonic force can overwhelm the message. In fact, musical extremity often is the message. For a band with an agenda more nuanced than “fuck the universe,” that’s just not good enough. It’s got to strike a balance between pedagogy and catharsis.
That’s one of many reasons why I appreciate what Wisconsin’s The United Sons of Toil have done on their third album, When the Revolution Comes, Everything Will Be Beautiful.
These self-professed Wisconsite “populist theoreticians” are as keen on exposing the cost of capitalism as any college kid weaned on Zinn and Chomsky. But they’re no condescending preachers. USoT tell their stories of oppressed peoples and cycles of class warfare in uncomplicated street poetry, as unpretentious as it comes. If the title of “Overturning the Rumford Fair Housing Act” suggests a dry political history lesson, its lyric “Rats and black boys / Dissension / Coins and schoolyards / Dissension / Horizon line chokes off my hate” reveals the human face of the titular racist, classist housing policy.
The United Sons of Toil’s sinewy noise-rock serves a similar purpose to their lyrics, making weighty things more portable. A song like “The Shining Path” funnels buckets of tension into clipped Jesus Lizard bass grooves, sexy and nervous. The band compacts emotional expanses into six-minute soundscapes on “The Concept of the Urban Guerrilla” and “Overturning the Rumford Fair Housing Act,” recalling Fugazi and Unwound at their most devastating.
From a sociopolitical standpoint, it would seem that the stars aligned for United Sons of Toil in 2011 – When the Revolution Comes was released at the height of the popular protests against the Wisconsin Budget Repair Bill in 2011, and just a few months before the Occupy movement took hold worldwide. Maybe it’s a little pat to hear populism in the band’s factory rhythms and earthy production; their cry of “How do we live? / And how do we fail?“ probably ain’t the most stirring of rallying cries. But United Sons of Toil sound passionate and committed, and that’s the first step towards convincing anyone of anything.