Abolitionist A Pernicious Truth LP

New LP from Oregon’s prolific ABOLITIONIST, this being their eighth LP (if I’m counting right), with releases dating back to 2010. If you’re new to this group, they have that polished (dare I say commercial?) post-hardcore sound in the style of TITLE FIGHT or AT THE DRIVE-IN, while maintaining releases on independent labels. Listening back to some older ABOLITIONIST material, this production sound may have come with age, as it tends to, and I’m sure any tie to “commercial” is against the group’s anarchist themes (so, sorry guys). That said, I can appreciate their political attitude/anger that has an obvious place within the genre. They address “liberty” a lot, which led me to the liner notes: “A follow up to events that transpired in the lyrics of 2015’s “The Vicious Rumor” (but years later, and in the form of a letter written by Nestor to Liberty)…” I tried researching this letter, but don’t want to misrepresent anybody if I’m looking at it wrong. All to say, these lyrics are clearly written with intention and a historical perspective—all well and good for intention, but the music is not for me.

Abolitionist Ugly Feeling LP

A heavier mix of ’90s dude hardcore with an odd amount of FUGAZI-type time changes and chords. These guys have definitely progressed musically in the decade or so that they have been churning out aggressive rock-y hardcore. A turn off for me, though, are the vocals, which are spoken-screamed with no regard for the tempo or key of the music. I kinda prefer their much earlier output. The music was still ruff’n’tuff, but the singer sang along pretty well. I’m a prude, though. For those who enjoy testosterone-laden hardcore of yesteryear without being asshole bros (as their lyrics are still pretty sweet), this seems like a keeper.

Abolitionist A New Militance 10″

At first, I kept thinking that I must be missing something here. I don’t want to be making assumptions about the gender identities of the band members. This can’t possibly be an entire eight-song concept record about feminism by a band of four dudes, with lyrics written in the first person from the perspective of a woman (“Hands off our bodies / We’re tired of the gaslighting”). The cover art is an illustration of an army of women: featuring oversexualized, stereotypical representations of women of different ethnicities. Their faces are covered by pink bandanas, and they wave pink flags while marching away from a cityscape emitting clouds of pink smoke. Unsurprisingly, the illustrator is also a man. It’s almost funny, like one of those “unclear on the concept” cartoon panels, how hard this misses the point. To the band: not all liberation movements belong to you. What feminism needs is for men to step back and let women define the struggle, define the goals, speak for themselves, and get to be the protagonist in their own story. You don’t still get to be the cool guy in the band, you don’t still get to tell the story. Support feminism by supporting women, not by exploiting women’s struggle to promote yourself. And besides it not being your story to tell, you are not competent to tell this story from a woman’s perspective. The pink theme is a little baffling (did I mention the vinyl is also light pink?), and the lyrics read like a BuzzFeed listicle of top feminism hashtags. It’s shallow and reductive, with no signs of actual understanding of why these issues resonate so strongly with women’s real lived experience. I commend the effort and intention that went into this, and am glad there are men that want to support feminist struggle. It’s OK to have a long way to go, as long as you’re willing to do the hard work of listening, learning, and growing. Why not write a record drawn from your own experience of how patriarchy has harmed you and people you care about?