Wisconsin-based punks Direct Hit are back with their fourth full length Crown Of Nothing recently released on October 26th through Fat Wreck, and I have seriously been listening to this one AT LEAST once a day. You fans of Direct Hit know what to expect by now: catchy as all fuck pop-punk mixed with plenty of hardcore influences, and Crown Of Nothing is no exception.
A concept album like their previous two full lengths (Brainless God was a concept album dealing with the apocalypse and religion while Wasted Mind was more of a theme loosely based around drugs/alcohol/other mind altering chemicals), Crown Of Nothing deals with themes of existentialism, religion, and nihilism. Singer Nick Woods describes it as:
“Crown Of Nothing describes the relationship between a vengeful angel, put to death by a demon she then torments in the afterlife for eternity. Day after day, for an unknowable amount of time, he wakes up, meets her again, and is systematically tortured and dismembered before being stitched up by a ‘heavenly’ host of characters and made to endure the same treatment upon revival. He deserves the punishment, and she deserves her vengeance if heaven is indeed a place where righteous existence and tragic death is met with divine reward. But she eventually finds herself asking how meaningful that reward is in the face of infinite time—and that existential crisis eventually gives the demon the upper hand. Crown Of Nothing is about how the angel finds meaning in the afterlife beyond her vengeance, comes to terms with anger, and ascends beyond our human perception of death.”
Uhhhhhh… You still with me there? Don’t let that description scare you off. As someone who usually finds 95% of concept albums incredibly pompous and pretentious, this is a damn good album.
While I enjoyed Wasted Mind, it was definitely my least favorite as a whole compared to the rest of Direct Hit’s releases, particularly because I found it a bit too poppy and missing the hardcore influences (minus one or two songs) that I love on their early EPs/splits, Domesplitter, and Brainless God. Musically speaking, Crown Of Nothing is almost like a return to form for them while still remaining experimental, and reminds me a lot of Brainless God. You still have your incredibly catchy pop punk on songs like “Welcome To Heaven” and “Bad Answer” while “Pain/Boredom” might be the heaviest hitting song they’ve wrote to date (their hardcore split with Hold Tight withstanding).
But the true talent of Direct Hit has always been perfectly blending the two styles together, and that’s where they truly shine. Songs like “Perfect Black” and “Bliss Addiction” are perfect examples of this: catchy hooks and melodies while remaining heavy as all hell still.
I love Crown Of Nothing, and it’s easily one of my favorite releases of the year so far. I think it’s best listened to as a whole album as none of the songs are filler and all are incredibly solid. Definitely give it a few listens if you dig pop-punk at all.