True Liberty – “Give Me True Liberty or Give Me Death”


true libertyWhen bands go out, fans usually are left with some sort of greatest hits album filled with songs they already have, sometimes with a couple “new” tracks thrown in to raise interest.  True Liberty, on the other hand, have chosen to go out by leaving fans with four new tracks and fifteen live tracks recorded from their last live show (at least for a while).  We all know and have seen bands come and go, and band members come and go, but in this case, the band is, let’s just say on “extended hiatus” as Aaron Liberty has moved to Costa Rica with his family to be a missionary to the people in the Orosi Valley.

True Liberty goes all the way back to 2005 when Aaron Liberty was looking to start a Christian punk band and found Mike and Tom.  A couple years later and the band released their first full-length, This is War on Raging Storm Records, quickly followed up the next year with Brotherhood being released independently.  The band then took some time, filmed a video for the song “Take it Back” and released that as a DVD complete with some great interviews of band members.  City of the One followed and the band’s last full length studio release Marked for Life was released in 2012 on Thumper Punk Records. Notable for those two albums is the production/mixing by Todd Corvin and the mastering being done by Stephen Egerton (Descendents).  After each album, the band toured and with the exception of Marked for Life, made the trek from their home in Richmond, Virginia to the middle of nowhere Illinois to play Cornerstone festival, hitting as many cities in between as possible.

Give Me True Liberty or Give Me Death to me is a two-part album, being divided between the new songs and live tracks.  The album opens up with three of the new songs and they pick up right where Marked for Life left off.  “Loud and Proud” could almost be the theme song for True Liberty as it pretty much sums up who they are and where they stand in their faith.  The band was always one of those who were easy to spot and not just because Aaron is really tall, but for most of their time on the road, Mike and Aaron would be sporting some rather large spiked mohawks of varying colors.  In-your-face, fast aggressive punk rock with lyrics describing their walk with God and you really do have “Loud and Proud”.  “Unite” keeps things rolling at an even faster pace and is filled with some cool bass lines and great pile on/sing-along parts.  “Standing Tall” is a more mid-tempo, melodic song that tells the story of the band and is the first video off the album that really is a good look back at the band over the years.  What I can say about these three songs is that they rank with some of the best songs the band has in their catalog and will make fans wish there were more coming.

In the interest of full disclosure, I’ve been a fan of the band ever since one humid night at the Cornerstone Festival in 2007.  I still remember walking out of the merch tent and hearing what sounded like the Descendents coming from one of the smaller side stage tents.  Going over and seeing these three guys cranking out the songs off This is War at breakneck speed, had me hooked.  Seeing True Liberty live and hanging out with them at Cornerstone became a regular part of summer since that time.  For those not fortunate enough to have experienced them in the blazing summer heat under a tent or in the following humid nights, the live tracks on this album will provide a glimpse into what that world was like.

The live tracks open up with a nice surprise, a cover of Johnny Cash’s “God’s Gonna Cut You Down”, which I can say I hadn’t heard them cover before although “Folsom Prison” did show up in their live sets from time to time.  The relatively slower paced Cash song seems like a warm up as the band then launches into “Revolution” at breakneck speed and continues on straight into “Here To Stay” and “Suicide King”.  From a song perspective, they cover songs off all their albums, which is provides a good perspective on their overall catalog.  From a high level perspective the live tracks are not perfect, but should they be?  They are an accurate picture of a punk band having a lot of fun on stage and playing their hearts out.  Unlike Five Iron Frenzy who had their live mistakes as bonus tracks on Proof that the Youth are Revolting, True Liberty has left the songs as is.  There may a chord or more that aren’t quite right, and a verse or two that isn’t true to the original, but instead of fixing them, they’ve left them as performed.  In addition to the Johnny Cash cover, they have included “Johnny B. Goode”, which was always in their live sets and Social Distortion’s “Ball and Chain”, both of which have provided great live moments over the years.

The album closes as True Liberty albums do, with an acoustic track, in this case, “Summary” perhaps as a nod to the Descendents who play a role in the True Liberty sound. Similar to “Standing Tall”, this song is describes the history of the band including Aaron being called to go “far away”. The chorus includes the lines “Those were the good times, those were the best times of my life” and in some ways they really were and having this live album will keep them as fresh as if they were yesterday.  Like I said earlier, I am definitely biased and my family count Mike and Aaron (and various touring bass players) as family, but this is a strong album that shows paints a good picture of the band from the studio and live perspective.  Fast, aggesssive, in-your-face punk rock focused on the trials, joy, and hope that comes from walking with God is what you’ll find here and you’ll have a good time going along for the ride.

Rating: 8/10

Written by John Jackson

1.    Loud and Proud
2.    Unite
3.    Standing Tall
4.    God’s Gonna Cut You Down (Live)
5.    Revolution (Live)
6.    Here to Stay (Live)
7.    Suicide King (Live)
8.    Fist Fight In the Dirt (Live)
9.    Put It to Death (Live)
10.    Broken Dreams (Live)
11.    Johnny B. Goode (Live)
12.    Ball and Chain (Live)
13.    To the Front (Live)
14.    Take It Back (Live)
15.    Lost (Live)
16.    Unite (Live)
17.    Just a Sinner (Live)
18.    Amazing Grace (Live)
19.    Summary (Live)

Band members:
Mike Liberty: Vocals / Guitar
Aaron Liberty: Drums / Vocals
Tom Liberty: Bass

“This Is War” (2007)
“Brotherhood” (2008)
“City of the One” (2010)
“Marked for Life” (2012) [Review]

Weblinks: Facebook / Myspace / Website

Record Label: Thumper Punk Records, May 2014

Buy the album here:
First Paradox
Norway: Nordic Mission
Metal Helm

Video below  ‘Standing Tall’

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