21 May 2022
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Government Pest - Album Review: Disengage

30 Jan 2020 // A review by Peter-James Dries

My favourite local album, in both a national and regional sense, is probably 2006’s Dawn of a Grey Winter. The compilation of $lave Recordings bands and beyond is a showcase of the best Palmy had to offer at that point in history. It is the pinnacle and prime example of the criminally underappreciated, distinctive Palmy Sound, and the gritty, raw, rock n’ roll soundtrack to my life in mid-2000’s.

One of the things I liked about Dawn of a Grey Winter, and the swamp scene itself, was that it sounded like a product of the 90's. Since then rock has been constantly recycled, deconstructed, to the point it’s become plastic and lost the feelings, the soul, the vibe of what it was. Shit, the stuff people call rock now doesn’t even use real instruments (despite the lies the videos sell you).

It’s also inadvertently become my benchmark for reviewing Palmy music. One of my criteria is whether an album holds up to all of the attachments, memories, and biases that give Dawn of a Grey Winter its value.

I think I’ve found a new benchmark.

I already found Government Pest’s sound to be more refined in their song writing, composition, structure, and performance compared to some of the other bands in the scene. They're made up of the heroes and ringleaders of the Palmy metal after-all.

Their riffs are heavy, the bass is groovy and chunky – and most importantly audible – the voice is powerful, the lyrics reflective of the Palmy disillusionment, and the drums are driving and consistent. All of that is good enough for a live gig, but the way their last self-titled release was recorded elevated the raw power from the stage and refined it to what could have been an internationally marketable album. You know, if the market still valued good music.

This much is as true of the new album Disengage as it was with Government Pest. But with their new album, they’ve added an extra sheen of high production values. Great mixing and mastering have brought a lifelike presence and clarity I haven’t seen in Palmy before. It’s the most commercial, professional sounding album I’ve heard come out of the $lave scene.

Government Pest have managed to modernise their sound, but also maintain their hard rocking ethos. It’s as if all the years of jamming, gigging, and recording have built up to this release. All that practice, all the hard work, the learning on the job. This is the culmination of everything that’s come before, across many bands and years.

One of the things that immediately stood out was, where the last album was a heavy drive to the end, they’ve added this level of progression into their songs. The Voices, the first track, starts off as a smack to the face, yet manages to build up to this peaking release that gives you this moment of euphoria. If you don’t listen to another track on the album, listen to that one. What an introduction.

Involve, my favourite track from their last album, is an analogue for 90's heavy alternative. It would fit between Stone Temple Pilots and Alice on Chains on a playlist and it wouldn’t standout. My favourite on Disengage, the titular track itself, is like something from the early 2000's that went unnoticed while the world went from loving to hating Limp Bizkit and their nu-metal ilk. I don’t know if it’s the tone, the multi-tracked guitar, the riffs or the structure, but something on this album takes me back to that time.

Somehow, Government Pest have followed up their amazing previous album with something even better. The comparison is VHS versus DVD. With no signs of these guys slowing, expect the next album to be Blu-Ray level. 5 of 5 songs.

You can find Disengage on the Government Pest Bandcamp

Rating: ( 5 / 5 )
 

About Government Pest

Kristov recorded the album Hostile takeover with Rob from Project: Blood doing vocals back in 2003 under the name Government Pest.

After the end of local bands Hellborne, Wall of Silents, Neckstretchers and Bloodspray for Politics and more. Goverment Pest was brought back to life with Kristov playing guitar and doing vocals, Murray Shaw playing bass, and Aaron Sanko playing drums.

They played their first show on Friday 31st October 2014 at The Slavefest Halloween Party 2014. Since then they have played a number of shows and recorded their first album in March 2016.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Government Pest

Releases

Disengage
Year: 2019
Type: Album
Government Pest
Year: 2016
Type: Album
Hostile Takeover
Year: 2003
Type: Album

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