German Hardcore band A Traitor Like Judas have been around for 13 years, in which time they’ve lost all of their original members… and that about covers everything I know about them. I am completely unfamiliar with their previous records and, in fairness to the band, I must preface this review by stating that I am not a fan of Hardcore; never have been, never will be.
But if I was, I think I’d be pretty psyched about this release. ‘Guerilla Heart’, their fourth full-length album, while not blowing my mind, does impress me somewhat. I tend to loathe intros, as nine times out of ten they are a waste of a couple of minutes, spectacularly failing on all levels. Not so here. At just under a minute it isn’t long enough to test my patience, and the stringed melody lends an earthy warmth, leading up to the album’s first anthem: ‘What Counts’.
While I don’t dig the lead – or the rhythm for that matter – for much of the song, it sets the tone for the album, showing right from the outset that this aspires to be more than just a collection of catchy tunes; it’s sending a message. The opening lines:
“What counts – is what you make of life
We waste – we waste our fucking time
What counts – is how we use this time
You only live once, you don’t get this twice”
The rest of the album basically follows in the same vein, drilling into the listener their distaste for the current state of the world, but also imploring the listener to be the difference they want to see. It’s an unusually positive message, accompanied by very strong songwriting, big riffs, heavy breakdowns, gang shouts and clear vocals. They even manage to pull off a well-timed piano interlude, which very few bands can do without sounding pretentious.
Such a message would normally leave a cynic like me feeling inclined to vomit, but the delivery is strong enough to make me put my hate to one side and let them have their say. Not only does this album not suck musically, but I can see this having a positive impact on people’s lives beyond mere entertainment. The lyrics reach out to the listener with an utterly sincere appeal for strength and hope in the face of hopelessness that I find admirable in this age of weakness and apathy.
There are no bad songs on here, each with lyrics worth taking a moment to contemplate. With so much meaningless shit out nowadays that demands nothing of its listeners except money, this album’s ambitious intention to galvanize the increasingly lost modern youth warms my gorilla heart.