If you listen to hardcore at all, you shouldn’t need any introduction to New York hardcore band Sick Of It All. These NY veterans have been cranking out albums since 1986 and haven’t had a lineup change since 1992 (26 years is at least 100 in punk years). All of this without a breakup or hiatus and inevitable reunion show is seriously damn impressive in this day and age.
With their November release of Wake The Sleeping Dragon, it marks the 12th full length for the band and their first in 4 years. While many bands in their later years tone things down (often calling it “maturing”…as my eyes roll to the back of my fucking skull) Sick Of It All is as hard hitting as ever. With 17 songs clocking in around a half hour, Sick Of It All isn’t pulling any punches this time around, and Wake The Sleeping Dragon is easily my favorite of theirs in a very long time.
The album kicks things off with the incredibly riff heavy, almost metallic “Inner Vision” before following it up with another no bullshit hardcore anthem “That Crazy White Boy Shit”, a homage to hardcore pioneers Bad Brains. Things change pace a bit on “Bull’s Anthem”, a punk rock anti-animal cruelty sing-along featuring guest vocals from Rise Against singer Tim Mcilirath and Hot Water Music’s Chuck Ragan.
Considering our current fucked up state of affairs in this country, Wake The Sleeping Dragon is definitely more political than anything else the band has put out previously. Songs like “Bad Hombres” provide a scathing critique of the current immigration policy and xenophobia plaguing our country (something SOIA is no stranger to, considering all the shit they got for promoting a immigration focused punk fest from a small yet vocal minority). “Deep State” and “The New Slavery” deals with fake news and the goals of creating more division, while “Work The System” takes on corporate greed and wealth distribution.
It’s not all doom and gloom though, with the hopeful title track “Wake The Sleeping Dragon” and in typical SOIA fashion urging everyone to resist and fight back. The band had some fun with the lyrics on “Hardcore Horseshoes”, a tongue in cheek anthem for all the aging hardcore “kids”, urging them to fill in the “bald spot in the crowd” and not to let the “front recede”, reminding them you’re never too old for punk rock.
If you’re a fan of hardcore at all, Wake The Sleeping Dragon is definitely a must. As I stated before, it’s easily my favorite Sick Of It All Album in a very long time, and proves that these NY hardcore veterans have absolutely no intentions of slowing down anytime soon.
Link to full playlist: Youtube