While United Nations was originally conceived as a powerviolence/grindcore outlet for Thursday's Geoff Rickly, Daryl Palumbo of Glassjaw/Head Automatica fame and Christopher "Chree" Conger, formerly of The Number Twelve Looks Like You, much like their original plans, things changed. Conger is said to have exited and been replaced by Converge's Ben Koller, while others even more shrouded in secrecy were brought onboard to round out the line-up.
Fueling the rumors surrounding the bands roster are the contractual obligations of many of the involved musicians, meaning at present only Rickly has been officially confirmed as a participant in the group. And while some secrets have been loosely guarded, it hasn't stopped the band from dressing up in Ronald Reagan masks in their promo photos, looking as if they were going to rob a bank in "Point Break".
More mysterious though is how the band got to where they are from their original powerviolence/grindcore intentions. Sure there are nods to both genres present throughout the album, but what the bulk of the material amounts to is more of a modern screamo style than anything else. Tons of frenetic build-up, wrenched screams intertwined with shouts, treble heavy riffing and chaotic drumming. Interestingly, despite the intended disarray the band splay out for the listener, there is far more structure here than expected and this keeps the pace rapid and energetic.
Rarely does a song span the two minute mark and while a variety of ideas are covered, nothing is really expounded upon to the point that it sinks in, sans perhaps the jazzy horn solo that closes out the final track. Well, beyond the no doubt ironic 'final track', which sees 13 minutes of silence closed out by the sound of a cash register. It's more than likely this was included to extend the running time so this outing could be sold as an album rather than an EP and it's almost genius how this move fits in with the bands rebellious corrupt capitalist motif.
But that said, there's no denying that reckless self expressionism can be a polarizing trait and while it fuels United Nations' frenzied momentum, it can also be a contributing factor to its downfall as well. Yes this outing can at times be impressive with its explosive energy, but its breezy nature sees little damage being done beyond the surface. Therein lies the problem with United Nations. More often than not the hype and mystery that surrounds the band is sadly a bit more interesting than the material itself.
(3.5 / 5)