01. Guide Me
02. Cleft Stick
03. Natural Life
04. Grim and Hopeless
07. Lonely Town
08. Grave Digger
09. Body Turned Transmitter
10. Voice On Tape
11. Hex Sells
12. Spacemen and Cops
13. Dangerous Beat
15. Grim and Hapless
16. Old Fools
17. The Man That Lived and Died Asleep
18. Like a Shadow; Like Shackles
2009 Twelve Gauge Records
"Do you think that your fathers are watching That they weigh you in their ledgerbook Against what There is no book and your fathers are dead in the ground"
It's a fairly meaty title for Sabertooth Zombie's latest full-length, but given the weight of this record, it's more than appropriate. These Bay Area dudes have a solid formula to work with, as they throw together an energetic mix of everything from the classic hardcore of Black Flag to the thrash punk of Propagandhi. Standing out as a truly unique hardcore act in the music scene has pretty much been rendered impossible, but with their foundation of influences and a bit of a distinctive spin by way of melodic rock leads and throaty vocals, Sabertooth Zombie is in the upper slice of creativity in modern hardcore.
And Your Fathers Are Dead in the Ground is also high successful in one of the most basic, yet often overlooked rubric for albums: content. At 18 tracks and 47 minutes, this album dwarfs nine out of ten current hardcore releases, but at the same time, never strays from delivering an engaging, intense listen. Even the ten minute, repetition-oriented closer, "Like a Shadow; Like Shackles," maintains a strong direction via layers of continuously moving feedback and noise.
But the true gems are the plentiful hardcore anthems that hover around ninety seconds in length. "Lonely Town" makes quick hops from a classic punk verse to frantic blasting before descending into a raw, hard-hitting breakdown. "Dangerous Beat" is one of the record's thrashiest tracks, ripping through quick metal riffing in a brief, but memorable dose. "Grave Digger" represents the catchier side of the band, riding rock grooves and melodic leads to a closing chorus of "Fuck you, grave digger."
It's all rounded out with the occasional touch of twang, heard best in the pair of related tracks, "Grim and Hopeless," and "Grim and Hapless," with the former being a stripped down, folk-type spin on the latter full band version. The bare-bones track isn't quite mind blowing, and it likely (or rather, hopefully) isn't hinting at a future direction for the band, but it's a clever idea that helps tie the record together. I'm into it.
Simply put, And Your Fathers Are Dead in the Ground nails my personal requirements for a straightforward hardcore record. Number one: make sure it sounds energetic. Number two: acknowledge some of the greats of genre, but throw in a unique twist or two to make a name for yourselves. And finally, number three: give the listener a lot of bang for their buck in terms of album content, all while avoiding a redundant, tedious feel. These are my metrics, and Sabertooth Zombie passes with flying colors.
Bottom Line: Although Sabertooth Zombie is a relatively new act, the band has always seemed to be very capable of mashing together a wide range of influences (nostalgic hardcore, thrash punk, rock, etc.) into an enjoyable modern hardcore sound. And Your Fathers Are Dead in the Ground merely adds even more evidence to that argument. This is definitely one of the year's best hardcore records.