"Year Of The Dragon"
April 15, 2014 - Tankcrimes
The latest installment in Fucked Up's Chinese Zodiac series features another sprawling, lengthy title track that defies easy categorization, and adds bonus goodies to bring the whole thing back down to earth. "Year Of The Dragon" is, expectedly, a musically expansive 18-minute epic with all the pre-hardcore genre shades we've come to expect from the band (namely heavy metal and progressive/psychedelic rock) and Damian Abraham howling as demonically and fiercely as he's capable of. That capability, however, errs on the "quite able" side--around the nine-minute mark, as the guitars only further amp up their old-school metallic chug (nearly making the song sound completely like a lost relic of classic metal), Abraham's growl sounds exasperated and mutant-like, much like the beast on the EP's cover. The next six or seven minutes are instrumental devastation, with solo wailing trading off with more rhythmic, otherworldly riffs, with Abraham coming in one last time to lead a chant that includes survival advice and afterlife uncertainty. It's more consistently riveting than Fucked Up's last entry in this series, 2012's "Year Of The Tiger."
The band also pay heed to their past countrymen by closing out Dragon with two covers, tackling early Toronto punks the Cardboard Brains and the Ugly. The former's "I Wanna Be A Yank" is pure early-’80s hardcore that sounds recorded live, adding some stripped-down aggression to the closing festivities, while "Disorder" wields an Oi!-style catchiness to it. It's a couple simple bites that follow a prolonged and exhausting—but rewarding—bark.