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Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Review: The Long Forgotten, Divinity School Drop Out

The Long Forgotten
Warning: This CD isn’t for the faint of heart. It isn’t for people who went home after school and listened to Warrant thinking that they were actually listening to heavy metal. No, this is much stronger stuff than that.

Shawn Macomber, fellow blogger and formerly a writer for the conservative magazine American Spectator, might seem like an odd choice for a hardcore screamer, but he does the job admirably on The Long Forgotten’s first release, Divinity School Drop Out. With the music written by Bob Merrigan and the lyrics by Macomber, you can tell that these two listened to a lot of fringe metal bands growing up--you won’t be likely to share this with your mother-in-law or your cube mates.

The nearest immediate equivalent that I could think of was SOD’s Speak English or Die, although SOD was much more of a thrash band, and The Long Forgotten stays closer to early eighties heavy metal roots. At times, the music occasionally calls to mind Iron Maiden (without the camp and negative connotations) or Slayer’s Seasons in the Abyss. If you like Atreyu or Lamb of God, you’ll probably like this.

That isn’t to say that The Long Forgotten are just playing in someone else’s sandbox. While the influences and the style are familiar, the band has a unique sound. It helps to have songs like “Song for the People of Belgium (Circa 1914),” a defiant vision of Belgium in the face of the imperial powers before being dragged into World War I.

Macomber has the perfect, howling voice to sing a line like “Proud we stood our ground/ bitter that we could never win.” This is good stuff--and a perfect marriage of talents. Merrigan writes great hardcore music and Macomber writes (and screams) just the right kind of provocative, rebellious lyrics that never sound preachy or overbearing. If there is a cohesive message, it’s probably summed up best on “I Wasn’t Born to Follow"--a kind of declaration of independence that makes no apologies for its hard turn away from dogma as soon as Macomber shouts, “It’s not free thought if the price is fealty to ideology.”

Put it this way: this makes the “punk” of bands like Green Day look weak and studied. Green Day’s rage on American Idiot is sanitized anti-American pop music wearing a punk mask, but The Long Forgotten is the real thing. Hard, fast, a little rough around the edges, and with a hell of a lot less make-up.

Bad Religion would be proud.

Visit the band (the album is just $5 through their online store).

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