Album Review: Downtrodder – “Downtrodder III”
Posted: by The Editor
Punching up. It’s the effort that Downtrodder has affected since its inception, digging heels into the independent music scene and swinging at oppression with every rich, propelled chord and drum kick. With the release of their third EP, Downtrodder III, it’s an addition to the Philadelphia act’s saga of unapologetic anger toward the structure of society.
Take your pick of the track list: each is going to be loaded with ferocity that takes careful aim at oppression. Opening the EP is scathing “Bible Thumper,” with tight guitar whines to match that of those it calls out. There’s no room for judgment in the eyes of Downtrodder, who twist Biblical references into call-outs against the religious right. Hate has nowhere to hide with Downtrodder’s heel-crushing lines like “he didn’t die for you/to use him like a sword and shield/he did not die for you/for you to keep us all at heel.”
Downtrodder is like a vigilante thirsting for justice, slashing at bigotry, capitalism, and racist societal structure with finesse. III acts as a call to action and aching comfort, which matches the swathe of emotions loaded into existing in 2018. Thick bass lines, groaning guitars, heart-palpitating drums emphasize each chill-inducing intonation in “White Terrorism,” driving home points like “somehow less mature/than the kids who watched their classmates die/somehow greedier/somehow you sleep/how do you sleep at night.” It’s the sort of political stamina that punk and hardcore needed to cope and call out, to consider and crush all in one release.
Tucked among the spitting lyricism attached to broad national issues is a moment of individual empowerment. Vocalist Jake Lucas digs deep into personal, universal struggles in “’Faulty Wiring (I am Enough).” In moments of weakness, Downtrodder emphasizes strength: “I’m not a failure/I’m not a disgrace/I am just human.” Any insult or moment of weakness derived is retaliated with a simple “I am enough.” It’s a powerful counter-thought in hardcore to establish individuality and self-love, without costing another.
It’s the approach of wide worldview lens while cradling self-love that guarantees Downtrodder’s place and ability to shift a trajectory of open empathy and vulnerability in subculture. If anyone is battling with sheer ferocity, it’s Downtrodder with each growling release crescendoing into a roar.
Disappointing / Average / Good / Great / Phenomenal
Amanda Starling | @starlingaj
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