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Modern Life Is War - Fever Hunting (Album Review)

Thursday, 05 September 2013 Written by Huw Baines

Modern Life Is War have been gone for five years. During that time their powerful, emotive brand of hardcore has continued to be a touchstone for bands who like to couple their sleeveless shirts with thinking caps. Now they're back and, if 'Fever Hunting' is anything to go by, they're not taking the task ahead lightly.

The album is the band’s first release with their original line-up since 2005’s ‘Witness’ and, unsurprisingly, it’s that record that it most closely resembles. Gone are the claustrophobic, filthy guitars of the underrated ‘Midnight In America’, with a huge injection of melody coming from the strings of Matt Hoffman and John Eich.

‘Fever Hunting’ is intense. From Jeffrey Eaton’s opening roar on Old Fears, New Frontiers, there’s nowhere to hide. Chasing My Tail and Brothers in Arms Together follow the blueprint, with the pace wound down and guitars thrashing behind vocals delivered with conviction.

It’s even better when Modern Life is War put their foot down just a touch. Health, Wealth And Peace is a fine companion piece to D.E.A.D.R.A.M.O.N.E.S from ‘Witness’, while Media Cunt finds Eaton screaming his lungs out over another furiously melodic guitar line. The production, from Converge guitarist and 'Witness' survivor Kurt Ballou, is at turns stripped-back and sharp, giving the band another layer of accessibility.

There’s always been something beating beneath the guitars and ferocity though, and that’s the case once again on ‘Fever Hunting'. Not many bands sign off by saying: "I hope we have made some people feel less alone and motivated them to think for themselves, be themselves and take action. Punk rock changed our lives. I hope we contributed something to keep the whole thing going." Modern Life is War did.

Eaton wrestles with the ideas of self acceptance and cynicism, the passing of time, depression and the trouble with existing in the real world. On Blind Are Breeding he laments: “Nothing humbles the anger of youth like a few more years of truth. I'm just as guilty as anybody else.”

His unflinching words are the perfect foil to a record that’s managed to harness the fire of a band that has been on the shelf for too long. It’s not clear whether Modern Life is War will be sticking around, but it’s good to have them back. Even if it's just to remind us of what we lost.

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