Veteran California-based hardcore band Throwdown has been making music for the masses for nearly two decades. The band originally formed in 1997 and released its debut album Beyond Repair only two years later through independent label Indecision Records. Since the release of that album, Throwdown has gone on to release six more albums despite a number of changes in lineups and labels. And each of those subsequent records has been met with praise from critics and fans alike. The band’s latest full-length studio release Intolerance is no exception to that standard. From start to finish, the album’s mix of musical and lyrical content have proven Intolerance to be some of the band’s best work to date. Right off the top, front man Dave Peters and bassist Matt Mentley prove along with studio drummer Jarrod Alexander and studio guitarist Dave Nassie just why this album is deserving of that acclaim. ‘Fight or Die’ is a pummeling opener. Its mix of semi-social commentary and full throttle musical side instantly conjures thoughts of Hatebreed. The album’s third track is one of the best of the album’s tracks thanks to that same driving tempo. Peters’ declaration of his continued dedication to the Straight Edge lifestyle set against that pummeling musical side makes this song one that is perfect for any live performance from the band. And then there is the slightly slower but still just as hard-hitting ‘Suffer, Conquer’ which offers its own social commentary. Each of these songs in their own way proves why Intolerance is the best material that Throwdown has released to date. That is not to take anything away from the other eight songs that make up this record. Each of those songs offers its own extra element of enjoyment for audiences, proving once again why this is some of the best material that Throwdown has released to date.
The members of Throwdown prove right from Intolerance’s opener that even having gone five year since its last album, it hasn’t lost a single step. Musically speaking, ‘Fight or Die’ instantly conjures thoughts of fellow hardcore band Hatebreed. That should come as no surprise especially considering that the album was produced by ZEUSS. ZEUSS is also known for having produced records for both Hatebreed and Shadows Fall among others. Lyrically, its semi-social commentary adds even more punch to the song. Peters writes in this song, “The life I knew is but a memory, a better time corroded by a harsh reality/What have we let ourselves become/A mercenary culture doomed to burn/So tell me what it’s gonna be when fire lights your city’s streets/Fight or die/It’s your only choice to survive/Fight or die/When fear and chaos collide/What the f*(& has thsi world come to/I just don’t know/What the f^*) are you gonna do when the lights go black.” This comes across as a rather scathing indicment concerning the current state of both the United States and the world in whole. He asks blatantly, what has this world come to? He goes on in the song’s next verse noting that people’s rights are being infringed on and that people need to stand up for said rights. That intensity in Peters’ delivery coupled with the song’s musical intensity makes this song the perfect first impression from the band in its return after a five year absence.
The musical and lyrical intensity established by Throwdown in Intolerance’s opener doesn’t let up a single bit after that song ends. It is just exhibited in different ways throughout the course of the album’s remaining ten tracks. One of the most noticeable ways in which it varies is exhibited in the anthemic ‘Avow.’ Those that know the history of Throwdown know of its links to the straight edge culture. Peters directly addresses the excesses commonly associated with the music world (specifically rhe punk) in this song, writing, “A poison tide, corrosive and alive/Rising to obliterate the weak/Anchored in spite, an unpolluted mind/This covenant, I’m sworn to keep…’cause I avow/I avow…to this straight edge.” He goes on to write that he has stuck to that straight edge lifestyle throughout the course of the band’s life despite everything that has happened to the country’s culture. He writes, “Twenty years, and everything has changed/A culture suffocated beneath the lies/Twenty years and I still remain/My allegiance never f&^$)* dies…Never dies/I avow…to the straight edge.” Sure it comes across as being a little bit self-congratulatory. But when taking into consideration the number of bands that have suffered losses among their numbers over the years, or have broken up as a result of the excesses tied to the music industry, it becomes far less self-congratulatory. Rather, it becomes a reassurance to Peters himself and to Throwdown’s fans saying, “Hey, I’m still here. We’re still here as a band despite our lineup changes and label changes. We’re still here.” It becomes a piece to really take in even more seriously when thinking about all of that. And when really considered, audiences will see just how important of an addition ‘Avow’ is to the album in whole, especially being the number of years that have passed between this album and the band’s last full-length release.
Both ‘Avow’ and ‘Fight or Die’ are solid additions to Intolerance when considering them both by themselves and as part of the album in whole. The 1-2 punch of the songs’ lyrics and music make them both excellent examples of what makes this album work as well as it does. There is at least one more song that audiences will agree serves as a good representation of the album’s strength if not more. The song in question is ‘Suffer & Conquer.” Much like the album’s opener, it is marked by some very Hatebreed style guitar work and vocals on its musical side. Its lyrical side is just as strong. Peters writes in this song, “You want respect because you put in your time/Entitled and indignant, you resign to a lie/Now I’m not saying that it’s time to concede/But in your disillusion you forgot what it means to/Suffer, suffer to succeed.” Everybody knows at least one person like the one described in this song. Said person is a gloryhog who is reality rather lazy but thinks the world owes him or her everything. This is someone that has become all too comfortable and perhaps even complacent in his or her situation. Peters’ verbal assault on said figure continues through the course of the song. Such ability to relate to audiences and continued intensity makes this song one more of this album’s highest points. Together with the likes of ‘Avow’ and ‘Fight or Die,’ it exhibits even more why Throwdown is just as strong as ever almost two decades into its life. They collectively exhibit, too why Intolerance is a welcome return from Throwdown after having released its last album five years ago.
‘Fight or Die,’ ‘Avow,’ and ‘Suffer, Conquer’ are all excellent examples of why Throwdown’s fans will want to hear this album if they have not yet heard it. They are merely the songs that this critic personally felt best represent Intolerance. Audiences will find their own favorites among the album’s remaining eight tracks not noted here when they hear this record for themselves. The album is available now in stores and online. All of the latest updates from the band are available online at http://www.facebook.com/throwdownOC. To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.