"SO IT BEGINS"
Hey folks, finally something really valuable is coming up here again. This month was so far pretty silent, I know, but that's due to the fact that the real life crossed right through my plans again and again the last days and weeks... the old story of work and real life duties, again and again, you all know... so enough of the introducing small talking right here and now, instead of this back to the topic and this is nothing else than my review on the current, new, and this year's CRUCIAL CHANGE release that carries the title "SO IT BEGINS" and that was released a few months ago - and this after, if you ask me, far too many years of waiting for it... but anyhow, it's finally out and that's all what matters in the end. It is released on vinyl by "THIS MEANS WAR" records and on CD by "CROWD CONTROL MEDIA" records, and the LP version is also released as a special edition with a very different (but also very great) Pagan/Viking style artwork. I own the regular LP version (as you can see above) and also the CD version and I will review here and now both, one after the other. Before you now ask why just let me say that the CD version also contains their great "MOURNING IN AMERICA" EP that's also released on vinyl and that was released more or less shortly after their "SO IT BEGINS" album, so you see, it makes sense to review both releases instead of just mentioning the two different release formats.
Ah, and now to something very important before we finally come to review the album: A big THANKS goes out to Tyler/CRUCIAL CHANGE for sending me the CD, fucking GREAT of YOU man, so THX VERY MUCH for it!!!
Okay, and now with this said finally straight into the action, here we go!!!
"SO IT BEGINS - The fight for your nation, the fight to save your land.
SO IT BEGINS - The battle lines are drawn, all factions make their stand.
SO IT BEGINS - The lies and the violence have come home to roost.
SO IT BEGINS!
SO IT BEGINS - We're gonna make them pay for all the things they've done.
SO IT BEGINS - Standing side by side, our hearts they beat as one.
SO IT BEGINS - No longer do we sleep, the people have awoke.
SO IT BEGINS!
SO IT BEGINS - Destiny's the reason, the tyrants set the stage.
SO IT BEGINS - Betrayed our people, feel our hearts of rage.
SO IT BEGINS - The night begins to fade, Old Glory to the sky.
SO IT BEGINS!
STANDING TO DEFEND!"
(CRUCIAL CHANGE - "SO IT BEGINS")
CRUCIAL CHANGE - "SO IT BEGINS"
CRUCIAL CHANGE - "SO IT BEGINS"
CRUCIAL CHANGE - "SO IT BEGINS"
("THIS MEANS WAR" Records; LP - limited red vinyl edition):
Waited by far too long for it, I mean it has been five damn long years since their great last album "33" was released, back then still via the german label "DIM RECORDS", and even I know that life is life and also that all costs money, I know, but man, damn it, I mean five damn years... I even doubted for a while that CRUCIAL CHANGE would be still around, hahaha ;-) , so you now may have a pretty good impression of how curious I was to finally see this album being released and I bought it direct and promptly... and what shall I say... five years are a long time and people who live a real life can change drastically in five years... and when this guys play in bands it's only normal or natural when also this bands then change... and so when I first saw the artwork and the band pictures of the new album I was pretty surprised... The album cover is a sort of a tribute or homage to the iconic N.W.A., the founding fathers of what is known since then as Gangsta Rap, and bandpictures that show the sympathic and authentic guys of CRUCIAL CHANGE wearing Baseball caps, sunglasses, in parts ''full beard'', and casual streetwear as well as sitting on cool Hot Rod or maybe better Lowrider styled cars, and no Boots & Braces, no Skinhead Way of Life or Oi! Band shirts, no Harrington jackets of "our" beloved brands, no tattoos, no shaved heads crop no. # one, and also no waving flags or anything like this. My first impression or thought was like: "Man, what's going on?" But keep in mind that five years are a pretty long distance to walk, hm, and in my individual case keep in mind that I by myself went through sort of strong and certain changes over the last five or six years, and so it was no shock moment, but a moment that made me even more curious, curious for the songs, the music, as well as the lyrics and the message, curious about/for the complete album, and so heavily excited I used to put the needle down and the LP started to spin for the first time... and then it happened right from the first notes, the damn album conquered me all the way and this in a by far more than "only" dominant way. So, one step after the other and so now first to the most important part of it: The songs and the music.
CRUCIAL CHANGE - "RIGHTEOUS HAND"
(I.) The songs, the music: Keepin' the pretty massive changes in the artwork and bandpictures in mind I can calm every CRUCIAL CHANGE fan's mood down, because they definitely worked no Gangsta Rap influences into their music ;-) and also they did not moved into any sort of Hardcore styled direction, no, they sticked true to their approach - even they definitely improved and cultivated their style and music in a massive way, and they also enriched it with some nice little but strong fresh ideas like great new rhythm structures and nice varying surprises in the pace architecture of the songs, as well as a even more harder and heavier harsh punch right and straight into your face, even heavier and even harder that before. And also I truly love to hear CRUCIAL CHANGE playing a style of (American) Oi! music that's also on the musical level free of/from any well-known Oi! clichés. No ongoing Oi! Oi! Oi! chantings, no sweet Streetpunk flirtings, no copying of any old ones and what they've done thrity years ago, no annoying over-used sing-a-longs for the cheap entertainment of the listeners, no hand clapping, no on and on singing never ending crew back up chantings, no gruff and grim cookeymonster growling and shouting vocals as lead singing, no anyhow done musical flirtings with the "Spirit of 1969" or anything like this, no, expect nothing of this to happen here - and even also today I surely very often still do love this mentioned clichés when they are done good and fresh (and often they are done so, but even more often they are done in a terrible annoying way every little while because you can easily disguise a lack of talent and creativity with using them on and on again and the drunken crowd cheers up to it, so why change it... yes, exactly because of this...), I definitely love it even more when I hear and see a band with the guts, the class, the skills, the attitude, and the character to change and walk their won ways and not caring for such stereotypes and instead of this doing their very own thing, and CRUCIAL CHANGE have all what it takes to walk their own way, and they know it and even more they know how to do it - and so, yes, they definitely do it. So expect dustdry played facecracking and bonesmashing forceful heavy guitars that drive the songs in a mercyless and hard way forward and yet still working great anthemic and hymnal approaches and arrangements into the songs and that offer beside the really heavy and in a great organic and natural way damn hard riffs great catchy melody and lead lines as well as also some outstanding effective and powerful solo lines that enrich the songs heavily and make them all really round and complete - and really HUGE. Beside the guitars the bass playing is in a very strong shining way present and sort of dominant and making the songs really broad and even more heavier, and this also in a pretty earthy and natural and also nicely dirty way, and I love especially that the bass is played in such a forceful way and that you are easily aware of it over all the distance of the songs and the whole album. The drums then march and stomp massively forward, backing the music perfectly up and giving them the final punch to become real smashers that take any- and everything but hell no definitely no prisoners, and I truly like it very much that the drums are done very limber, I mean they are very powerful and totally tight and precise in time but all without being in an impelled or pressured way intrusive facile heavy, and that's just damn great, point and fact. And above all there are Tyler's vocals, one of the strongest, hardest and yet really sung and so also totally charismatic and also damn aggressive lead singing voices that you can only find and Tyler with his vocals is really giving it all the crown, ah, and of course some or better surely a lot of smart and clever placed and timed loud and proud crew back ups beefing it all up in a great and massive way. This is hard smashing, rough'n'tough, sharp aiming'n'shooting, heavy hitting, harsh stomping, and just sheer force- and powerful American made Brickwall Oi! of the highest class and without any clichés but instead of this with a own heart and soul, character and identity, and of an incredible high class of quality. And it is also especially the heart and the soul that gives this album, this songs and music the fresh and far out breath of life that streaks through the songs and finally really brings them to life. To compare CRUCIAL CHANGE with any other bands makes no real sense this day anymore to me but just let me say that if you are (also) into bands like for example the YOUTH DEFENSE LEAGUE, maybe some RED, WHITE & BLUE, and also BEST DEFENSE and can imagine a band doing some style more or less close to the mentioned great ones of old but this in a very self-contained stand alone way and also in a very fresh and in a all positive meant modern way than make sure to check CRUCIAL CHANGE and their new album out, just in case you maybe haven't done so already. This is just totally fantastic stuff, period. And now the next important things: The lyrics and the message.
CRUCIAL CHANGE - "AMERICAN HEART"
(II.) The lyrics, the message: And here the drastic changes that the artwork already announces come through even clearer than in the music. But also here one step after the other. It's not like they changed their personality or character, no, they stayed true, and also sticked true to their lyrical approach. But their lyrics are done on an even higher level of quality than before, and are even more thoughtful than before, and also even more critical, gladiatorial and battle-scarred, and also more political than before, very outspoken and upright, Working Class, patriotic and at the same time also straight right up anti-racist and anti-fascist, and this even more outspoken direct than on earlier albums. Also critical on the religion of Islam and all the fucked up fascist excesses we all can see and experience of it, which means the Islam, worldwide, and this gives them even more points in my book, because not many bands would have the guts to do that, and even less bands would or anyhow could do this on such a skilled and thoughtful level like CRUCIAL CHANGE do it, without any use and abuse of bullshit right wing stereotypes or clichés of "critizing" Islam, and this is just perfect. Beside their political and critical lyrics we get also again a very strong Paganism/Odinism song, the phenomenal "THE WANDERER" (music-wise and lyric-wise one of my total favorites on "SO IT BEGINS"), but then... no, you will find no Skinhead anthems, Oi! Oi! Oi! hymns, no fuck politics, Crucified Skinhead, or what the hell else ever songs and lyrics... instead of this we "just" get "YOUTH": Sort of nostalgic review on the short cropped days of youth and at the same time also a big middle finger right and straight into the face of what has become out of Skinhead and Oi! in the largest parts of the scene over the years right up to the present day, it's sort of a desolate and frustrated swan song on the Skinhead'n'Oi! scenery of today and the state it's in, as well as a nostalgic view on the innocent naive days of youth, and a proud and self-contained outlook for the future and view on the own current person without carrying any banners and without wearing or needing any labels to define yourself anymore. And this makes "YOUTH" to just a phenomenal song (also music-wise), and the perfect proof of how far CRUCIAL CHANGE moved on over the distance of the last passed five years, because it's a song that would have been unthinkable of five years ago, and so it's a very fine and perfect example of CRUCIAL CHANGE in 2014 - and maybe also an important roadmark on the road into the future of the band, we will see. So, okay, and now finally to what came off too short so far: "All the rest".
CRUCIAL CHANGE - "YOUTH"
(III.) "All the rest": The album "SO IT BEGINS" comes in a great organic, earthy, natural, dirty, and yet very heavy and powerful production sound that's a perfect match to/with the music/songs, and the artwork then not only sticks out for an Oi! album and Oi! band but it is also just a true beauty because it simple rocks and is also really fresh air. If you want to know what are my personal favorites, okay, then let me first say that... every damn single song is purest platinum, period... but if you want to know which songs personally for me shine even a little bit brighter and stronger than let me say that you from my point of view best start to discover "SO IT BEGINS" with the title track "SO IT BEGINS" itself as well as "LAND OF MY FATHERS", "AMERICAN HEART", "OUR STAKE", "THE WANDERER", "YOUTH", and "RIGHTEOUS HAND", and make sure to play it loud and to have enough room to start your one man pit in your living room.
All in all this is an album that demolishes my rating scala because I would have to give it sort of 12 out of 10 points if not 15 out of 10 points to be just to it. But after this is not how things with a rating scale work I will just add a * to the rating to demonstrate the phenomenal class of "SO IT BEGINS" and the stand-alone place and character that it holds for me, without a single doubt, point and fact. And that also on a personal level, because as far as I love their fantastic music also their lyrics speak from deep down out of my heart and soul with expressing many (political and critical) views that come as close to mine as it is only possible for a band outta there and also especially their song "YOUTH" describes in a sort of perfect way my own development and how I see "things" today and how I saw this "things" once... it's a surprisingly great matching lyrical expression of my own development as a person over the last five or six years or so, and this only makes me hail them even more. So, okay, I think for now I really said enough so and so right here and now and before I will do my review on the CD version of "SO IT BEGINS" as well I will now give you my rating on it and just let me point out one more thing straight and direct and outspoken again: 2014 saw really incredible many just amazing albums of so many different fantastic bands and of so many different kinds of music out there, but this little one here, this stand-alone awesome masterpiece titled "SO IT BEGINS" of the almighty CRUCIAL CHANGE really is, and so much I can tell already here and now also with still having some weeks to go before 2014 will be done, nothing else than my album of the year, and I will close this lines here and now with saying: THE LEGION STANDING PROUD. HAIL VICTORY! ALL HAIL CRUCIAL CHANGE! Cheers & Oi! Oi! Oi! /// Andy
(Rating: 10* of 10 points)
CRUCIAL CHANGE - "OUR STAKE"
And now here comes my review on the CD release of "SO IT BEGINS":
CRUCIAL CHANGE - "SO IT BEGINS" & "MOURNING IN AMERICA"
("CROWD CONTROL MEDIA" Records; CD):
So here's now the CD version of "SO IT BEGINS", waiting to be finally reviewed as well, okay, and so here we go, reviewing it, too, especially because the CD version of the albums contains also the pretty much brand new three track EP "MOURNING IN AMERICA", and that's by far reason enough to do a proper review on it alone, no matter if the LP version was already reviewed or not, and so, again, here we go one more time. On this little silver shining disc we find the whole album that we find also on the vinyl plus the three mentioned single tracks. So what shall I say or write here and now more to or about the album that I haven't already said respectively written above. This is my personal album of or for 2014 due to the fact that it is packed up full completly with killer songs and killer music as well as it is enriched by really great lyrics and it is coming in one hell of an atrtwork'n'production sound package, all on a level simply not reached by others and it is also from my personal point of view their by far best material to date, and also (like above already said) also this albums means hell a lot to me on a, hm, okay, let us say on a personal level (simply because I can't describe it any better, but I think you get what I am saying), so expect to find all the ripping and ruling killer tunes from start to finish, the demolishing powerful guitars that also shine with great leads and melody lines, the overwhelming great lead vocals, the beefy and bulky crew back up chants, the forceful and very present bass playing, and the harsh stomping battle drums, and also expect all the hymns from start to finish, from "SO IT BEGINS" and "LAND OF MY FATHERS" over "AMERICAN HEART" and "THE WANDERER" to "YOUTH" and "RIGHTEOUS HAND", and also be sure to enjoy the great artwork, that even was slightly overworked so that it even looks a little bit more cool than the LP original, and be also sure to enjoy also the first class production sound, that's a hard and yet very earthy perfect match to/with the music. Yes, be sure to get all this. (And after I've wrote about it all already right above I won't go in it here and now anymore.) But be sure to also get even more, and here comes the "MOURNING IN AMERICA" three track vinyl single into play that is featured as a bonus here on this disc, so that you get the three brandnew tracks "MOURNING IN AMERICA", "THIS FORCE", and "WHO LAUGHS LAST?" on here added to the tracks of the "SO IT BEGINS" album. While the album was (at least over here in Germany) released some time around April or May the single was for all what I know (or think to know) released by the end of this summer respectively the beginning of autumn, so just some few short months ago from now, and so this three new songs are what you may can easily call brandnew tracks. And this brandnew tracks really know how to shine like the whole new album, maybe even a little bit more (even this seems to be not that possible after all, and this seperates the greatest from "just" great bands), and this due to the even more dominant and present really singing lead guitar lines that cultivate the songs even more and give them an even more hymnal or anthemic approach, and what I really like or better love is how great it's all arranged, because the leads really interact in a perfect match way with the great lead singing and the lead vocal lines, so that the new songs truly really, really shine even a bit brighter than their songs on their full length already did. I would love to see them go on in this direction (of the album as well as of the single and with that strong focus on the leads and the guitar work in general) in the future of their existence as the band CRUCIAL CHANGE (and hopefully it will be a ongoing long running future). Beside this they sticked with and stayed true to their style and approach of music like above described, and all hail them for doing so. Lyricwise the three new tracks are even more outspoken political on a very high level of class and quality, very reflected and thoughtful without any dumb and stupid brainwashed as well as brainwashing stereotypes and clichés and prejudices, instead of this really quality lyric(s), and that's something that I also really love, their lyrics simply give me so much, and that they somehow seem to see things in very similar lights than I do see many things make their lyrics to really speak-outs right from deep down out of my heart, and personally that's just even more great. But also if you not share their views, because I mean why should you (everyone has his/her own experiences and so on, and so views can and do differ a lot, and that's just totally right and fine with me, life would be boring if this would be different and we all would be "equal" in a totally assimilated, unwanted, and boring way and sense), I am very sure that you will appreciate a band delivering lyrics of that outspoken kind on such a first calss, thoughtful, reflected, and also authentic level. Perfect, period. After all I think finally I've said so far really every- and anything what I had to say about "SO IT BEGINS" and so with this words I will now come to the final lines of this (very, very long) review article and will be finally coming to the close of it. This here simply and definitely and without a doubt is my album of/for 2014, and even 2014 saw many great bands and artists coming up with their new albums and most of this new albums were damn great and amazing records this very one here shines clearly above them all, and the "MOURNING IN AMERICA" single added up to the "SO IT BEGINS" album takes away nothing from it, hell no, instead of this the total opposite is the case, if anything. So my rating definitely remains, and my final words: Don't miss out on it, you would regret it badly. CRUCIAL CHANGE are really one of the few very damn best bands around, and this not only of and in American Oi! in particular or Oi! in general, nah, they are one of the few very damn best and greatest bands around no matter out of what particular genre of music, and I can not highly recommend this fantastic new album full of timeless highest quality (American Oi!) music enough, so come on and go out and get it as soon as possible if you still shouldn't have it already. Definitely (very) soon to be classic album!!! ALL HAIL CRUCIAL CHANGE!!! Cheers & Oi! Oi! Oi! /// Andy
(Rating: 10* of 10 points)
(Award: MANSLAUGHTER THUG LIFE album of the year 2014.)
(Rating: 10* of 10 points)
(Award: MANSLAUGHTER THUG LIFE album of the year 2014.)
CRUCIAL CHANGE - "INTO THE FIRE"
(Band contact I: https://www.facebook.com/crucialchange04?fref=ts)
(Band contact II: http://crucialchange.bigcartel.com/)
(Label contact I: https://www.facebook.com/pages/ThisMeansWar-Records/163716930355776?fref=ts)
(Label conatct II: https://www.facebook.com/crowdcontrolmedia?fref=ts)
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CRUCIAL CHANGE - "LEGION 33"