Failed States is the followup to 2009's Supporting Caste, one of my favourite records of the year. The album seemed like the culmination of the band's growing change in style, full of melodic punky hooks and awesome metal riffs. With Failed States, the band continues to change things up, whilst also looking back and taking some influences from their roots.
Propagandhi have never been a band to take things slowly, but Failed States is even faster than the band's previous couple of albums. Looking back to their hardcore-punk past, songs are quick and punchy and fly by, one after another. The result is an immediate, urgent sound, like a riot in progress. There are some exceptions to this, such as opening track "Note to Self", which maintains a mid-tempo pace and is one of the longest tracks from the band yet, and Unscripted Moment - another moody, slower number. However, for the most part, this is a light-speed record, which feels much quicker than its 37 minute running time.
Every Propgandhi album has featured a few short, pure punk songs, but Failed States has the most since 2001's Today's Empires, Tomorrow's Ashes. Whilst previous album Supporting Caste was full of catchy hooks and big riffs, Failed States is much more of a no-nonsense punk rock album.
Which is not to say the metal influences are gone entirely. Guitar solos still pop up frequently and the band has a heavier edge than most of their punk rock peers. "Cognitive Suicide" and closer "Duplicate Keys Icaro (An Interim Report)" are good examples of the blend of punk and metal that Propagandhi do so well.
Failed States is another great album from a band that make nothing but. Do I like it as much as Supporting Caste? Not quite, but I really, really liked Supporting Caste. This is still one of my albums of the year so far, and anyone who likes either metal or punk needs to do themselves a service and listen to it. And then listen to everything else the band has done too. Biased? Me?