All of the lyrics in Kennedy’s The Guilty Poor communicate frustration with peoples’ various ideas of rationalizing truth. It is clear that Matt Savage is done with peoples’ various ideas of “who’s right, who’s wrong,” but he doesn’t aim for moral relativism either. It’s clear that his own beliefs are the only thing keeping him from the brink, from falling into despair. It’s an interesting lesson to teach in a genre of music that is divided into two camps: the one that says keep yourself rooted in morals that will keep you from falling into the void of the human condition, and the other that encourages you to dive in.
It’s telling that this type of idea is one that I’m brooding on in a review that’s supposed to focus on music. This is because the lyrics work in conjunction with what’s happening sonically. And what is happening musically is savage intensity, aided by an ensemble that pulls no punches – except, of course, when it needs to. When Kennedy aims to pull back the veil and expose how ugly they can be, they are hideously vicious. There are telling moments on this album that remind me of old Norma Jean, with riffs that nod at bands like Curl Up And Die or Blood Brothers. It’s a nostalgic mix that simultaneously stays conscious of the current moment.
Where this album falls short, and it is in a minimal aspect, is it’s almost manic approach to vocals. It seems that there is never a second where there isn’t someone delivering heartfelt yells, wounded screams, deep growls, sincere singing, and spoken word. By the time “Promise Kept,” the melancholic yet oddly sweet instrumental track on the album plays, it is a welcome relief from the relentless preaching on the rest of the recording. But perhaps it’s an apt metaphor for the society that Kennedy perceives. Otherwise, this is precisely the kind of album that shall push this band further on their already storied rise.
01. Stillborn Believer
02. Brave New World
03. The Great Divorce
06. American Gods
07. Empty Womb
08. The Screwtape Letters
09. Promise Kept
Run Time: 34:33
Release Date: September 29, 2015
Check out the album The Guilty Poor here.