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Now Hear This: And the Triumph of Justice - Countless Thousands

Rating: ****1/2

The latest by Countless Thousands, “…and the Triumph Of Justice,” somehow combines punk with Americana, and it works. It’s an album that proves punk sensibilities are still valid, and that things are still being said that matter. This is a band that proudly waves a protest flag without ever sounding like they’re ‘virtue-signaling.’

Countless Thousands sweeten their diatribes with a pop catchiness that takes nothing away from their edge. Two guitars, bass, and drums. That’s it, and that’s all you need when the messages are this on point.

The guitars are skillfully wielded by Mike ‘Danger’ Van Gorder and Michael ‘Light’ Ward, with the propulsive bass in the hands of Davey Munch (one of the greatest rock names EVER). Also gotta shout out to the drummer, Jon David, featured on “Space Nazis Must Die!,” and who’s a primal force all over this record. And whoever ‘Professor Elemental’ is, his contributions help kick some “Space Nazi” ass.

The opener and title track is a tasty instrumental that showcases how ‘in synch’ the guitars are, as they slip and slide in a melody that’s both hummable and foreboding. Then the band downshifts into ‘Game Change,’ which sounds like the Avett Brothers left home and took a bus to L.A. to hang with some skate punks.

“The Star Spangled Banner On The Moon” starts as another instrumental--a fairly respectful reading of our National Anthem, with some lovely frills and harmonics, until a voice counts it off, Ramones-style, leading to a delicious minute and a half of noise, feedback, and someone saying “Get off my moon!” I would stand up and salute for that…

Munch’s bass shines on “The Rat,” a lyrically complex tune that also shows the range of the band’s lead vocalist, which leads into a frenetic (and totally appropriate) reworking of the “Battle Hymn of the Republic” called “Solidarity Forever” that makes you think of Dropkick Murphys, if they had more of a social conscience.

We’re back on the Americana tip with “Parts Unknown,” a less political but no less powerful song, topped by some gorgeous harmonies. Then, a brief instrumental “Intermission” is rudely cut off by the angry and strident “Fat Cat,” which rocks hard. Turn this one up.

“Ma$k Off” has no lyrics, but you might want to have it cued up on your phone for when some mouth-breather gets within six feet of you. It makes a powerful statement in under a minute, if you just need to get your rage on,

The single, “Lazar Wolf,” is a macabre ditty that spotlights a minor character from the old Broadway show, “Fiddler on the Roof.” Wolf, the village butcher, becomes a grindhouse baddie in this inventive remake. Check out the video, which looks like Roger Corman directing “Fiddler.”

Then there’s the goofy / creepy “Murder Assassins from the Future,” which is followed by some old-fashioned thrash on the only cut that doesn’t really connect, “Parts Oiknown.” On the other hand, if you’ve ever doubted that ‘loud’ and ‘old-timey’ go together, you should listen to the band’s version of “Hard Times Come Again No More,” a song which has been around since 1854 and still aches with relevance.Before a quick reprise of the title track, the album closes with “Can’t Quit (An Orchestra on the March),” which serves as a mission statement for the album, and the band. The song, starting with mournful vocals and guitar picking, ends with one more blast of righteous noise, making “…and the Triumph of Justice” a great soundtrack for people looking for a glimmer of hope in an apocalyptic worldscape.

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