Pennywise – “Never Gonna Die”

Who remembers when artists stuck to the genre of music they belong in? Nowadays it’s all over-saturated and just a sad sight. From rap and hip hop groups and artists going techno and mumble talk, to rock bands getting new wavy and acting like this is what we’re supposed to do from now on. Hell it’s even happening in the underground with some of our favorite acts in the wicked scene. But when I hear that a band, who for 30 years has refused to change with the times, and remind everybody of what music is supposed to sound like like, you bet your ass I’m gonna get excited about it! That’s how I felt when I went and picked up Never Gonna Die, the latest release from longstanding underground punk legends Pennywise!

  1. Never Gonna Die
  2. American Lies
  3. Keep Moving On
  4. Live While You Can
  5. We Set Fire
  6. She Said
  7. Can’t Be Ignored
  8. Goodbye Bad Times
  9. A Little Hope
  10. Won’t Give Up The Fight
  11. Can’t Save You Now
  12. All The Ways U Can Die
  13. Listen
  14. Something New

Never Gonna Die is the 2nd new Pennywise album recorded since the return of original lead vocalist Jim Lindberg [who left the band in 2009 while promoting his book “Punk Rock Dad’, he later would form a short-lived band called The Black Pacific]. Many fans in both the underground and mainstream music world know Pennywise for not only being one of the flagship bands on Los Angeles indie rock label Epitaph Records, but also for classic anthems such as “Bro-Hymm” which closes every one of their concerts, and the very popular and controversial tracks “Society”, “My God”, and “Fuck Authority”. While their last album Yesterdays was a tribute album to their departed friend and founding member Jason Thrisk [who was also a member of Humble Gods], it was originally composed back in the 1990’s but completed in 2014. It was definitely a throwback to the earlier sound of the band. Never Gonna Die brings in elements from their 2012 album All Or Nothing [the only Pennywise album to not feature Lindberg on vocals] with everything else the band has done in their career.  It mixes the fast-paced fusion of speed metal and hardcore punk that made them the “go to” band to perform during surf competitions, with the political ammo that those who are against the current regime in the United States have been waiting to be handed to them for nearly 2 years. So let’s get right into it

The album begins with the title track itself, which starts off slow to get you prepared for the fast drums and loud guitars 18 seconds in. A song that brings you right back into the sound that has defined Pennywise since their formation in 1988. Next is “American Lies” which as you can guess, is all about how it is today. Taking shots at the Republican Party, Donald Trump, Alex Jones, the alt-right, Jeff Sessions, Wall Street, and everybody else tho has corrupted this country.  “Keep Moving On” is next, which is another Pennywise anthem about never getting knocked down and getting right back up for more. Same with “Live While You Can.” Songs like these are on every single release from this band, and it never gets old. Hell the chorus of this song is very catchy: “I’ve got a time bomb ticking in my head, ticking in my head!”. That’s something you can repeat hearing this song just once.

“We Set Fire” is another song that could fuel any resistance movement against a hell-bent government regime.  It’s also an example of mixing elements used in all their previous releases while keeping it all fresh and new, as previously stated.  The lyrics mix personal issues as well as political issues.  “She Said” on paper would probably be a song you’d hear Blink 182 or Green Day sing about. It covers relationships and how it breaks down into negative territory. “Can’t Be Ignored” once again can be a song used in the whole resistance against a corrupted government. “Goodbye Bad Times” can be a song for the rest of us, as it’s a regular hardcore anthem that nobody can hate. When you have a sound clip explaining that while most people tend to listen to rock & roll music at a low level, it was intended to be heard at full volume, readying listeners for an assault. The lyrics themselves are all about the aftermath of a long night of a good night of partying, waking up to something shocking, and escaping the “bad moment” that is the morning after.  “A Little Hope” once again reflects the current situation of the world,tackling the subjects of possible nuclear war, Trump’s alleged affair with porn star Stormy Daniels, and the situation in Syria.  “Won’t give Up The Fight” continues the whole “anthem for those opposed to their government’s bullshit”. While it sounds very much like their 2012 anthem “Revolution”, it’s a completely different song. “Can’t Save You Now” is an anti-Trump song.  With lyrics that explain his various lies, Pennywise say everything you may want to say to Trump’s face.  “All The Ways You Can Die” follows which explains all the ways our decisions can lead to our own demise.  If we make the wrong decision, but risk it all for a 2nd chance at life, it can either be rewarding or all for nothing.  If it’s all for nothing, and you’re on your death bed, there’s just one question… Was it all worth it? Next up is “Listen”, which once again showcases the kind of music this band has done for many years. Hard, fast-paced, aggressive, and insane with lyrics pretty much telling you to stop what you’re doing, take your life back, and don’t let anybody tell you different. The album closes with “Something New”, once again tackling the current state of the world, plus adding in all the unneeded influences in all political democracies including collusion, corruption, religious influences, and policies based on discriminating people of difference races, religions, sexual orientations, or gender identification. It pretty much asks you what would it take for all of us drop the current state of the world and start all over again. Something I’ve been saying needs to be done with the United States for nearly a decade now.

All in all, Never Gonna Die is destined to be an underground classic that will probably not break through to the mainstream, but will come crashing into their world with barbed wire baseball bats and a vulgar attitude. In 2004 when everybody was against the Bush Administration, Pennywise alongside other punk bands like NOFX, Bad Religion, Rise Against, Green Day, The Casualties, Dropkick Murphys and Flogging Molly pretty much wrote the blueprint of the modern-day protest anthems for bent-up political regimes [the compilations Rock Against Bush Volumes 1 and 2 which are still available through Fat Wreck Chords]. And now in 2018 we’re starting to see this once again as NOFX made mention of this in their 2016 album “First Ditch Effort”, Green Day made mention of it on their 2nd best of album Greatest Hits: God’s Favorite Band with the song “Back in the U.S.A.”  With this new Pennywise album, and the news that Bad Religion have begun recording a new album it’s pretty safe to say the music that made everybody who was already against the “red states” are making their way back to wave the flag of resistance. But for those who are not into the political messages and just want to hear a good hard, fast, and heavy rock album that pretty much begs you to play it so loud it rattles windows 6 blocks away from your home, Never Gonna Die is for you!

You’d think after being around for 30 years this year that age would slow down Pennywise. But after listening to this release, I can say that just like the Undertaker’s performance at this year’s Wrestlemania, Pennywise still has what it takes to go another 30.  I’m pretty sure this is just the beginning of the new era of Pennywise!

from Faygoluvers


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