Before we start, let’s get a few things straight. Firstly I’ve not enjoyed the last couple of albums from Sick Of It All. Whereas their early output, through to the early noughties were wall to wall bangers, their albums since then have only had two or three tracks that I could dig. But my next point is that the New York Hardcore legend’s worst albums are still better than 99% of the hardcore out there. They are just that damn good and Wake The Sleeping Dragon, as the title suggests, is a stunning return to form.
The seventeen pummelling tracks are kick started by Inner Vision, a song that takes all the good things about the band and stuffs it into one glorious whole with Armand’s thumping tom work bringing in a frantic riff that ends in massive a sing-a-long. Never ones to forget their roots, That Crazy White Boy Shit is an ode to the equally legendary Bad Brains, while Bulls Anthem sounds like it was written for a sports team, but actually addresses animal abuse. Political opinions have been a staple of Sick Of It all’s music since the beginning and thirty two years on they still feel that same rage with former New York public official Robert Moses feeling their wrath in the subtlety titled Robert Moses Was A Racist. Internet warriors are in the firing line next with Self Important Shithead, another tune which emphasises the lyrical freedom the band seem to have allowed themselves on this album. Always With Us is a slower number that pays tribute to fallen friends, whilst another feature of Sick Of It All’s music rears its head again and that’s their desire for unity within our scene and Beef Between Vegans, with its witty double entendre title, addresses that perfectly. Craig’s bass is the driving force behind Deep State before the band adopt a more satirical view of politics-specifically the orange man and his wall, both of which are taken apart in Bad Hombres. The album finishes off with The New Slavery a track that once again starts with that famous Craig Ahead bass tone, which reminds every other bass player out there to just give it up.
Mixed by Tue Madsen, a man who’s fast becoming the go-to guy in Hardcore, Wake The Sleeping Dragon is the best Sick Of It All album in fifteen years. They have the best rhythm section in Hardcore, they have the riffs, they have the best front man and they have a fresh batch of kick ass songs to add to an already immense back catalogue. The kings are back… Chris Andrews