Government Hate Mail – “Government Hate Mail”


GHM 2014Some bands are not for everyone, yet they have a certain characteristic to them that for those whom like them can be addictive and individualistic in their own right. Government Hate Mail is one of those bands. Just like with life, where very few people take into account of the full picture, or bigger picture in front of them, so sometimes is the case when we critique or review bands. I hope this review is not just a surface scratch of whom these guys are and what they bring to the table, or else you might just miss the relevance of this album.

Certainly the name of the band itself could raise an eye brow or three in the Christian camp, but I don’t think it would bother these guys much anyways. I think ones suspicions would be incomplete to consider they must have hate for the government, as they quickly dismiss this on their facebook by saying they do not hate the government, but just hate the mail. Government Hate Mail in all respects has its roots in the Christian punk scene. Basically formed by ex-members of Empty Tomb, Crux and The Dwellers and the Clergy; Government Hate Mail has a rich heritage of pertinent punk rock history embedded in their D.N.A .

Now this Portland, Oregon based band is by no means a punk rock band, maybe punk-iiish, but if anything they have a grungier feel about them but not relegated to that. Jim (vocals and guitars)(The Dwellers / The Clergy) started the project to help his son, Noah better play the drums. Greg (Empty Tomb / The Crux) was not doing anything, so he decided to join on guitars; he then brought his son Louis in on bass, since they needed a bass player. So this fathers and sons team bring you an album that officially does not have a title, but for arguments sake we will say it’s a self-titled release.

They are currently on Veritas Vinyl/Vinyl Remains, an awesome label owned and run by Jesse Jeremiah. This for me already boosts some creditability and a sense that you not going to get a run of the norm type band. There are some out of the box bands that have released albums on that label, and this is nothing short of one of them.

To start the album has a couple genre dimensions to it. It’s filled with a lot of iiiish to be truthful. So one person could say they are punk-ish, and you would be right. You could also say they are alternative-ish, and you could be right there. You could even say they are rock-ish or grungy-ish, and you know what you could be right there too. You could also bite the bit and say they are a combination of all the above, and I would not argue that all. There is though a 90’s feel to the band, particularly that post -grunge type bands ie Foo-fighters, Bush etc… Though there are hints of Nirvana sounding bits in one or more of the songs too.

I don’t think Government Hate Mail are deliberately trying to fill the ‘weird’ spotlight with their combination of styles. The songs sound organic, and posture to a band that might have a lot of musical interests or influences and thus that culmination is somewhat different to what can normally be expected. This is non-conventional rock that carries a unique flavouring, that might not find itself always palatable to fans of the above genres I mentioned, but this does not take away the fact that you get a unique album, and something that does not tow the line of conventional platforms.

“First Rage” kick starts the album, the song does not really dive into the energy of the rest of the album, and is by no means a gauge to the rest of the album which grows in substance and energy till the end. “Lights of Reality” steps up the game, and solidly secures the foundation for takeoff. “Punch Face” with its Nirvana-ish style is one of my personal favourites. It bubbles with energy and delivery and aggression, reminding me of such star grungers as MudHoney and even a band like Green River. “Y” is another song that reminds me of bands like Dinosaur Jr and similar acts. The vocals are typical of the grunge nature on that song.  “Zippo” is another stand out song for me, it cracks into a very energetic song that has radio friendly written all over it. Its a simple song, but the infectious guitar riff and thumping drums drive it forward with freight train strength. The vocals compliment, staying melodic throughout without going into that typical grunge atmosphere. This makes this album an interesting listen; it never falls into the conventional of a specific genre.

In conclusion this album falls in the ish category in that it does not submit to a specific genre. If you a fan of the grunge or the post grunge scene of the 90’s you will find this a desirable listen and addition to your music collection.

Rating: 7.5/10

Written by Donovan de Necker

1/First Rage
2/Lights Off Reality
3/Punch Face
4/ Y
5/ Lofolow
6/ Cry Baby
8/Watch What You Wish For
9/Follow Me Anyway

Band Members:

Record Label: Veritas Vinyl/Vinyl Remains, June 2014

“Self-Titled” EP (2012) (review)
“Self Titled” Full Album (2014)

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