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Nomeansno - All Roads Lead to Ausfahrt

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Artist: Nomeansno

Album: All Roads Lead to Ausfahrt

Label: Ant Acid Audio

Review date: Aug. 3, 2006

The song remains the same for Victoria, B.C.’s Nomeansno, still plugging away at the political prog-punk for well over two decades now. This is a band that, when firing on all cylinders, juxtaposes a left-wing compassion buried in a Jello (Biafra) mold of biting sarcasm against blistering, machine-like rock explosions of dizzying complexity. It’s the Nomeansno that most who cared have chosen to remember, best represented on 1989’s concussive Wrong, and on 1991’s tuneful, polemic 0 + 2 = 1.

That the band, founded by the brothers Wright (Rob on bass and John on drums – both sing), still has some fire left in its guts with All Roads Lead to Ausfahrt (by all accounts its 14th studio album) is astonishing. These guys were no youngsters when they started, and must be past the half-century point by now, but still have the conviction to rally against a world that has been left to rot, solely by the hand of man and his interests. Entropy doesn’t figure into their personal dynamic; they’d have hung it up long ago if it had. For the listener, this means that the years the brothers spent in their garage learning to play with the deftness of Crimson and the heaviness of Sabbath, with the agenda of Crass or their colleagues in the Ex, were far from wasted.

But it’s been a long, long time since the band had anything new to bring to their table, and unfortunately, Ausfahrt drags because of it. We’re hearing the same sort of complaints: lack of political awareness (“Wake Up”), allegories condemning the Christian right (“Faith”), soullessness laid bare (“Mondo Nihilissmo 2000”). The group is more muscular and trimmed down than on more recent efforts, like 1999’s effluvious March of the Headless Bourgeoisie, but, regrettably, it also sounds as if they’re slowing down as a result. Only the chaotic shifting and humorous proselytizing of the album’s longest track, “Heaven is the Dust Beneath My Shoes,” finds the group breaking fresher ground, going through a day in the life of a jackbooted fascist with a devilish grin. We’ve heard the nods cowpunk, the big choruses, the shocking exposes. We need more, and they stop short of giving it.

What’s more upsetting is that now, with hundreds of bands having shot their dystopian load throughout the framework of the ‘80s and early ‘90s – ultimately leading up to what some believe are the most dire times in modern history – the fight has been taken out of many of those who might otherwise yell the loudest, or push back the hardest. Something broke within Nomeansno following their masterstroke some 17 years ago (and it is that, one of the most aggressive and powerful opuses in post-hardcore ever made), and it hasn’t properly healed. It’s inspiring to see bands, then, like the Ex, who’ve been ramming the system longer than anyone else, and changing their tune to another stunning height when musical stagnation approaches. And it’s inspiring to see Nomeansno pick up the axe again, but it’s going to take a craftier swing to fell the trees of injustice this go-round.

By Doug Mosurock

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