The Austerity Program: Backsliders and Apostates Will Burn

The Austerity Program
Backsliders and Apostates Will Burn
Hydra Head Records

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The Austerity Program is a self-described two-piece “punk” band from NYC featuring Thad Calabrese on bass and Justin Foley on vocals, guitar, and drum machine. Their latest four-song EP release, Backsliders and Apostates Will Burn, is more austere-metal than outright punk, but of course that depends on who is defining “punk” and “metal.”

The first track, entitled “Song 25,” starts with a long bass note and sounds like “…a droning in your head.” This droning, accompanied by the lyrics: “And you can do your best, but it’s never enough,” evoke the feeling of desperation and of trying and trying again. This is good stuff. Good, bury-your-head-in-the-pillow-and “…in the morning you’ll recall that there is only sorrow” stuff.

“Song 26” has a driving metal beat behind a preacher’s voice, damning the backsliders and apostates who had “better wash your hands in the blood of the lamb.”

“Song 27” is where the lyrics get absurd and funny, which is exactly how I like it. The character in the song is a children’s TV show star, powered by cocaine and speed and making kids laugh by destroying himself. He hates the kids and he hates what he’s become. “I’m Buzz the Bunny and I’m on TV and I wish that I could die.”

The final track, “Song 28,” is where we get to the traditional “punk” part of this, at least lyrically. It recalls the utter futility and cosmic pointlessness of relationships and life. Thanks for reminding me. I almost reached my next birthday without musing over that again.

So is it punk or metal? Does it matter? If we must have this discussion please remember the immortal words of Jello Biafra, “Punk ain’t no religious cult/Punk means thinking for yourself.” So why would you care what I think?

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About Tom Kennedy

Tom Kennedy is a writer and a malcontent with a sarcastic manner, an aloof gait and a misguided sense of belonging. He lives with his son, his snakes and his undefined sense of dread.
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