If the point of this 'Re-Discovered' section is to promote 'forgotten classics', then few fit the description better than 'I Will Fight No More Forever' by Kinetic Dissent. No one I know has heard of this band from Atlanta, in the States. I think that's less of a statement against their quality, and more of a sign of the times back in 1991. I remember buying this album on release and being amazed that I seemed to be the only person in my network of friends who actually enjoyed it, let alone had heard of it. As I've already mentioned in this column, this period of time (and 1991 in particular) was very difficult for fringe acts. If you weren't at the peak of commercial success, then chances are you were going to struggle. The band, though, play to the strengths of progressive metal at the time; timing and tempo changes, intricate instrumentation, and those soaring vocals. However, Kinetic Dissent chose to mostly eschew that age-old maxim of progressive metal; song length. It's something that bands like Cynic have come to epitomise in times when bands such as Dream Theatre seemingly are incapable of ending a song. It's refreshing now, and was incredibly so back then. But, it was the strength of the writing that peaked my interest.
I WILL FIGHT NO MORE FOREVER
Retrospective review by Steve Cowan (February 2013)
1) Cults of Unreason
4) 12 Angry Men
5) Social Syndrome
6) I Will Fight No More Forever
7) Novocaine Response
8) Testing Ground
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
"The band...play to the strengths of progressive metal at the time... However, Kinetic Dissent chose to mostly eschew that age-old maxim of progressive metal; song length."
A progressive gem, this. It's the little touches, such as the choral synth during the choruses, that elevate this song to being one of my favourites on the disc. The guitars drive the song mostly with precision riffing, but there are flashes of melody that really do breathe life into the track. The drums hold interest in the way they pound like Lars Ulrich at his least imaginative, yet carry the music forward on a series of beats seemingly slightly out of kilter with the music behind it. Unlike Lars, however, this feels deliberate; as evident on the remainder of the album, which is crammed with imagination and skill.
That intro needs more cowbell. In fact, before the music kicks in, you could swear you were about to listen to 'The Real Thing' by Faith No More. It's a wonderful testament to the pre-digital editing days that people actually could play in time. There are a few missteps on the album in general, but I see them less as mistakes, and more 'human' than what we hear these days. This is less immediate than 'Cults...', but doesn't let up on the moodiness. Which brings us to the album's only true 'what the fuck' moment...
Coming off like Chris Cornell fronting Malfunkshun, this is a somewhat bizarre grab at the trend, at the time, of incorporating a funky swing into your songs. Whether or not this was label interference, or the band exercising their options for commerciality, isn't clear. Honestly, I blame the Red Hot Chilli Peppers. Of course, many acts at the time were equally to blame (Sacred Reich, Mordred, etc) for similar musical crimes. As it happens, it's not a bad tune at all; in fact it's damn enjoyable. It's just, you know, a sore thumb.
Bringing us right back on track after our funky diversion, is 12 Angry Men. Incredibly catchy, and punchy, the song incorporates many key changes, tempo adjustments, and thrashy chops. Yummy. The song has political overtones, as does most of the subject matter on the album. Although, and with the title track aside, this is probably most obvious here.
Doom-lite. Actually, this reminds me of 'Non-Fiction' for some reason - another forgotten band - the vocal work during the verses is quite unusual in delivery (almost spoken-word, with a left-to-right stereo effect), which helps to elevate the song above average status, along with the nice little chord-progression of the chorus. But, it's close to being the weakest track on the album. The main riff plods somewhat. It's only the bridge and middle-eight that saves it from mediocrity.
An instrumental of sorts - augmented with samples - riding on a neat little acoustic melody. It's a very powerful song, which builds, and builds, into chaotic brilliance. I'm a sucker for tom-heavy drum patterns, so this is right up my alley. It's 'resistance to Government'-influenced title is further demonstrated by the nature of the samples, focussing mainly on Native American Tribes but incorporating other infamous Government-led policies that were unpopular (prohibition, for example). Quite possibly the finest, and most fully realised, track on the album.
There's a very subtle Megadeth influence in the guitar lines here, especially in the bridge/chorus. Even the bass in the mid-section has an air of 'Peace Sells' about it. As the second longest track on the album, it's a shame that it never really excels at any point. It's a decent track but, like 'Social Syndrome' before it, uncomfortably close to filler. On a 9-track album, that's pushing things.
'Melanin' notwithstanding, this is the most obvious song for single status, and stands out accordingly, but less jarringly so. It rides on a breezy and light guitar riff, and never attempts to be overly clever. It's a simple little ditty, and no worse for it.
This album was apparently re-released in 2007 by Metal Mind Productions, re-mastered and repackaged, as a limited edition. There's little information about the fate of the band since the original release; although rumour has it that they're all comfortably in day jobs having long since given up the rock and roll dream. It's a shame then that promise, talented musicians, and genuine song writing skill, can all come to nought at the whim of the fickle music industry machinations. But, that's how it should be. Had it not been for this fact, then I wouldn't have had the pleasure of this 'secret' classic to revisit for these pages. Time has taught me that, despite the smugness one can gain from owning these cult-classics, it's important to share these forgotten gems. What's the point in hiding albums such as this away when it could be appreciated by a wider audience? If anything comes from these retrospective reviews, it's that I hope that the bands can benefit from a new interest from fans that would have otherwise passed it by. Who knows how much of that will come to pass. I only hope that by putting this review out there that at least one person gets to hear what could have been the beginnings of a long and interesting career.
KINETIC DISSENT DISCOGRAPHY
I Will Fight No More Forever (1991)
Track 1: Cults of Unreason
Track 2: Banished
Track 3: Melanin
Track 4: 12 Angry Men
Track 5: Social Syndrome
Track 6: I Will Fiight No More Forever
Track 7: Novocaine Response
Track 8: Testing Ground
This is the closest that Kinetic Dissent get to traditional prog-metal. After a lengthy intro, the pace is choppy once the vocals kick in. It's all very 'Operation Mindcrime', with Dwight Bales doing his best Geoff Tate impersonation. Thankfully, at the half-way point, the song changes course. At seven minutes long, there was a danger this could have been the only real duff song here. However, it rides out on a slow-build, with a subtle lead guitar, that ultimately leaves you wanting more.
Track 9: Reworked