Thrash metal and punk rock have always had a very close relationship with one another. Both are typically driven by aggression formed through some type of misfortune or injustice, and Generation Kill has no qualms about boring that point into your skull. Formed by Exodus front-man Rob Dukes and Rob Moschetti of M.O.D., they originally took the band name from a book that was written by Rolling Stone journalist, Evan Wright. Wright was entrenched with the 1st Reconnaissance Battalion of the U.S. Marines that was deployed during the 2003 invasion of Iraq, thus beginning a war… oh wait, excuse me, I mean “conflict,” that has killed tens of thousands of civilians, as well as costing the lives of 4,484 American soldiers, 179 United Kingdom soldiers, and 139 other soldiers from allied countries. If there is one message that can be drawn from Generation Kill‘s “patriotic” debut album, “Red, White And Blood,” it is that we must always be suspect of what old men send the young ones to go out and do in the name of “democracy” and “freedom.”
“Red, White And Blood” seems to be more of a statement than anything about what (American) Armed Forces teaches our friends and family to forget that who they are fighting against are also human beings; to not have a care in the world about who they are plugging holes into. This is typically brought home as Rob Dukes tends to shriek his lyrics from the perspective of soldiers themselves as they are paraded through war zones and taught to kill indiscriminately.
After taking in their obvious political message, Generation Kill wants to make it a point that you’re not only listening to a thrash metal album, but one that has its feet deeply rooted in the world of punk rock, as well. While the music itself is not extremely complicated (save for the guitar solos) and leans far more towards the punk aspect, what Generation Kill does very well is not only creating some pretty catchy chord-driven metal, but being able to create an atmosphere that wants to bring fear and wanton indifference (through the eyes of your average war-hawk Republican).
“Red, White And Blood” has some real distinct crossover tunes in the form of “Hate,” “Red, White And Blood”, and “Depraved Indifference” that make sure to get your blood pumping and head banging, but that atmosphere I spoke of really likes to rear its head in the rest of the album as the music takes a much slower and somber tone. Tracks such as “Self Medicating,” “Slow Burn,” and “Dark Days” rely more on Rob’s lyrics to get you into the music itself as everything else has a depressing feeling to it, especially as the majority of music lasts over four minutes. I did think that Rob Moschetti playing the Star Spangled Banner at the end of the title track was pretty nifty. “Let Me Die” was the only track to stray away from the anti-military industrial complex message, and this time with Rob proudly proclaiming his atheism to the world and to just leave him alone.
While I do enjoy a good portion of the music, I will say that I sometimes found myself to get a bit bored with the lackluster energy in the slower songs. The subject matter alone, while very sad and depressing, is absolutely ripe for pissed off thrash metal/crossover, but instead Generation Kill opted to go in a different route. That is perfectly fine to not always take the easier path, but I think it was at the expense of trying to be more “original” than their other leftist counter-parts. Although, I will say it was certainly different to hear Rob Dukes try his best to sing in the melancholic lullaby of “Dark Days.” The same goes for the bands cover of “Wish” by Nine Inch Nails. I think Rob sounds like Trent Reznor if he smoked and drank a lot more liquor, which is pretty good.
Generation Kill‘s debut effort definitely had subject matter that is most certainly worth discussing and pointing out. I believe that the band conquered everything they wanted to do with “Red, White And Blood,” and while the message is right up my extremely liberal alley, there were still some pitfalls that I think could have been avoided. The music itself is nothing ground-breaking and can be a little lifeless at times, but overall it is an enjoyable ride as long as you don’t mind the political message behind it.