When Arizona skate punks Authority Zero released ‘Stories of Survival’ in 2010, it’s title had an autobiographical truth behind it. Since their 2002 debut ‘A Passage in Time’ blended rickety punk rhythm with the effortless swing of ska, the four-piece have released a consistent output of records that never stray far from its format, but always leave listeners grinning.
Consequently, if you’ve been a fan up to now, you probably know what you’re going to get from sixth album ‘Broadcasting to the Nations’ before you even press play. And when you do, the band grab you by the collar and drag you straight through the door with the triple assault of opening tracks ‘First One in the Pit’, ‘Reconciliation’ and ‘Destiny and Demise’. All under two and a half minutes in length, these songs aim straight for the jugular with buzzsaw guitars, frantic drum fills and an urgency from frontman Jason DeVore, whose rapid-fire vocal flow remains the stuff of legend.
Songs like these, which pack both muscle and urgency, is where Authority Zero excel on ‘Broadcasting to the Nations,’. However, the more traditionally-structured punk songs let the band shine as well, as demonstrated on ‘Sevens’ and lead single ‘Bayside’, which opens with a riff eerily similar to the intro of Neck Deep’s ‘Threat Level Midnight.’ Even the ska and reggae influences that dominate ‘Summer Sickness’, ‘Revolution Riot’ and ‘La Diabla’ become irresistibly catchy after a few listens, despite inspiring a lot of cringing on their first plays.
Though they play these three different styles well, the constant categorisation creates inconsistency in the record’s structure. Where past releases felt like a melting pot of punk, ska and hardcore, ‘Broadcasting to the Nations’ lets itself down through its own compartmentalization. Nevertheless, the songs here possess a life-affirming quality which has always been key to Authority Zero’s survival. Again, it keeps them afloat here.
‘Broadcasting to the Nations’ by Authority Zero is released on 2nd June on Bird Attack Records.
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Words by Andy Davidson (@AndyrfDavidson)