Birth A.D. – Stillbirth of a Nation
The back of Birth A.D.'s Stillbirth of a Nation says, "Fuck your party metal, we're here for war!" This is the key to its greatness. The band plays crossover thrash like its acronymic influences D.R.I., C.O.C., M.O.D., S.O.D., and so on. But unlike today's retro thrashers who play the music for its style — white hi-tops, photo collages, all the right back patches — Birth A.D. play it for its substance. They have things to say, and crossover is their perfect medium.
Stillbirth of a Nation is a product of its time. It could not have come from the '90s, when America was rich and generally happy. Now that the country is in trouble again, '80s themes have resurfaced, albeit in altered form. This album is 20 minutes of employment anxiety and suspicion of a welfare state. "Equal Opportunity" bemoans such policies, not only in their misguidedness, but also their pointlessness: "Equal opportunity / As a cog in the machine / Pulled into the gears / Before you find out what it means." Brilliantly, the song begins and ends with mind-numbing call center ringtones.
Unlike the cold war of the '80s, this "war" is personal. It's against parasites, layabouts, and sheep. The lyrics come from day-to-day life. An Ed Repka-drawn mushroom cloud backing would be overkill. These lyrics need a pistol, not a Nuclear Assault. Their attitude is punk, which for metallers comes via Motörhead or crossover. This narrator is no Lemmy — he just wants to "Kill Everybody" — so crossover it is. Bratty, Kurt Brechtian streams of syllables run over compact, catchy riffs. This "war" was tailor-made for crossover.
Ironically, the result is fun. It's not forced, the kind that says it's having fun. It's like The Office or Chris Rock: humor that's uncomfortable because it's true. This album sets me on edge. I like that. Municipal Waste are today's retro thrash torchbearers of "fun." Their last album was called The Art of Partying. For whatever reason — the times, their tastes — their upcoming one is called Massive Aggressive. Birth A.D. need no such flip-flopping. They'll pat you on the back and knife you in the front. It's good unfriendly violent fun.
- Cosmo Lee
Birth A.D. open for Deceased on July 24 at Austin's Room 710.