The tail end of 2012 has seen a record which epitomises true and honest punk rock in sound and heart. What to Believe is a blistering release of ten classic punk riots from a band in Rogue Anthem which is a battle cry for the underdog. Formed by vocalist, songwriter and rhythm guitarist Myke Augustat, the US band through their passions and music is a powerful anthemic cry standing against all that is wrong with society and the world. It is raw and abrasive, a release which lights the touch paper to a fight for change and one thumping bruise of impressive punk rock.
A few months before its release Augustat sadly passed away leaving behind a wife and three children and one impressive band. What to Believe was released at a benefit show in November to honour the man with all proceeds from it and those generated by the album
going to the family. The remaining members of the band, Neill B (lead guitar), Carter B (guitar), Tanner P (drums), Billy B (bassist now ‘proudly singing the Anthems’), and Vulcho (bass), came together with the punk rock community, friends, and family, to celebrate the life and music of Augustat with bands like JFA, Fiction Reform, El Nada, and Soto Street joining Rogue Anthem in playing the event. It was a fine send off for a man who had touched so many people and brought to reality one of the great arguably unsung underground punk bands.
Released through Thumper Punk Records, What to Believe enrols the passions and senses into a storm of attitude and incendiary sounds with an irresistible lure of grazing riffs, destructive rhythms, and in your face truth lyrically and musically. There is no room for niceties or refinements within the songs just pure honesty and unbridled energy. The band was started by Augustat to carry a message to the forgotten and the underdog, the previously mentioned battle cry for all fighting against the system politically, socially, and personally, for those going up against the consuming traits of ‘materialism, false pride, greed, gluttony, apathy, selfishness, addiction, and vanity’. Each track is an inciting bruising which fires up the imagination for not only the intent of the songs lyrically but just their individual storms of eager and contagious punk sounds. Musically the band is an antagonistic force bringing forth a compulsive blend of Rancid, NOFX, CIV, and Angelic Upstarts. It is uncomplicated, direct and aggressive, and quite delicious.
Starting with the infection brewing 1984, a song which has you joining in within seconds of its opening chorus entrance, the album just moves from one defiant party to another. With ear slapping rhythms, coarse vocals, and driving riffs, the track sets up the album perfectly and has the senses greedy for plenty more. Like the majority of the songs it plays like an old friend yet to be met, its sounds nothing openly new but making for only the richest invigorating company.
The great start is matched by the following God Save Me, the raw and unpolished production upon the release adding an extra layer of satisfying caustic breath to this song like all the others. From its furious presence the album barges through and lashes the ear with further fiery confrontations from the likes of One Voice, the stomping title track, and the excellent Needle Down, a song which brings in melodic flames of harmonica and flashes of keys and female vocals to bring a full and intriguing breath to its great punk n roll feast.
The biggest highlights come in the latter part of the album through the irrepressible tempest that is Life of Agony and the best song on the release, the rhythmic magnet Kick Down the Doors, and the closing Underdog Army, a track which sums it all up, band, sound, and heart of the whole thing. Each song on the album is simply an immense pleasure and What to Believe an album all punk fans should investigate. How Rogue Anthem will evolve without their founder time will tell but it is hard to imagine anything but further enjoyable and provocative ventures from the band.
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