ACTIVATOR By Professor Gregory J. Snyder, Ph.D City University of New York Baruch College Department of Sociology and Anthropology At what point does the transgressive other decide that his mode of being has become passé? Answer, never. Activator is fast, and angry. This is hardcore music boys and girls, and if you don't know there's a formula for that so you better get it right. And they do. The lyrics are yelled over guitar tracks that boom and crunch and wail. I say to myself, its about fuckin time somebody got angry, and not just regular angry, but do something about it angry. Anger, like the man said, is an energy, and that energy has been severely depleted in our current world. We've wasted our energy being comfortable and stupid. And well, these are the times that call for Activator, always have. Now you might, like me, be sitting around in your old age wondering when the hell these kids are gonna get sick of it all, and do something and that time might be now. Cuz these are Activator times, always have been. You might think it possible that the youth have woken up, that they are sick of being lied to, sick of having their cohorts killed and that they have finally become punk? But the truth of the matter is that only punks can be hardcore and Activator is not music made by fed up kids, but by smart, mature adults; veterans of punk and hardcore and metal, and it might just be music to lead a movement by. But Activator is less activism and more of a manifesto, outlining a set of principles and practices about what is good and right. You don't get too old for that. Loud is good. Fast is good. Fuck you is good. Shannon Moore's lyrics, like the name of the band itself, are a mash of intentional double-entendres. Everything has (at least) two meanings and none of them are as clear as you might think. Sometimes I think "Shackle" is about resenting a girl who has consumerist dreams cannot be fulfilled, but then it morphs into a metaphor for social justice, a critique of capitalism, and duh, slavery. So what does it mean for a black man to write a song about a girl and title it "Shackle"? Fuck you, is what it means. Now "Suffer Leader" I'm sure about. (I think) This leader must be made to suffer, and yet the possibility that he might just get away with it adds to the despair and the anger, or maybe anger without hope is rage. Moore sings, "what more must it take to dethrone a liar?" That is the question that plagues me. Nixon got dogged for covering up a break-in that was meant to rig an election. Reagan and Thatcher's conservatism inspired a movement to do it yourself. Bush rigged two elections, disenfranchised black and brown folk and then sent them off to die, and how have the youth of America responded? They haven't. It's easy to say fuck it, fuck you, takes some courage. In "Unfortunate Lovely" Jared Draces' long guitar intro puts me back in DC in 1991 waiting for Pantera to hit the stage. But while Activator might be a little nostalgic, it's nostalgia that has me thinking more about the future than the past. Moore does more singing than yelling on this track and it's pretty catchy and once again it's about two things, love and war. Since all's fair in these genres Moore directs his attack at the one who lied to him. He might be talking about his girl, or he might be a soldier, alone, on a hot night, wondering what the fuck he's doing there. That feeling of loss and absurdity gnaws at me. Could it be that we really are powerless? That there isn't going to be a change? Fuck that, these are Activator times. Always have been.
Album: unfortunate lovely EP (2011)
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