Hard Rain Falling (Sudden Death)
Hard Rain Falling, D.O.A.’s 16th full-length, is fiercer and more consistently satisfying than anything Joe Keithley has done since War on 45, wisely sticking—with a couple of exceptions—to a tight, fast, energetic hardcore formula that seems to be engrained in Keithley’s DNA. The topical high point, “The Cops Shot a Kid”, details both the racist action of police and self-destructive community reaction. “Punk Rock Hero” steers away from Keithley’s tendency to sloganeer by criticizing those who think throwing beer bottles at cop cars is a meaningful gesture of protest. And when Keithley does sloganeer (“Pipeline Fever”, “Racism Sucks”), the fury of his delivery and the fire of his guitar easily help you to swallow the prosaic, leftist-by-numbers lyrics.
The weirdest moment is a tie between the Scottish-inflected “Kicked in the Teeth” and the reggae cover “Johnny Too Bad”, which seems a bit goofy on first listen, but ultimately works. The weakest point, meanwhile, is “Ni Hao”, an attempt at cuteness about D.O.A. touring China, with lyrics that sound like Keithley spent about 10 minutes on them. Here’s hoping the new rhythm section of Paddy Duddy and Mike Hodsall stick around for a while; they could be the best complement to Keithley since the days of Randy Rampage and Chuck Biscuits.