• D.O.A. – Treason (Sudden Death Records) Album Review

    Released by: MVD Visual/Sudden Death Records
    Released on: March 15th, 2020.
    Year: 2020
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    D.O.A. is still going strong, and the world is a better place for it. What better time than now for the band to drop their latest album, Treason? With the world falling apart faster by the second and the current administration continuing to mismanage the current pandemic, the time certainly seems right for an eighteenth studio album from the band. As always, D.O.A. is led by founder/vocalist/guitar-playing Joe ‘Shithead’ Keithley, and his latest incarnation sees him joined by Paddy Duddy on drums/backing vocals and Mike ‘Corkscrew’ Hodsall on bass/backing vocals.

    All The President’s Men kicks things off with a brooding stomp. Keithley’s trademark growl opens the song proper, a fast, two-and-a-half-minute rager with some killer gang vocals on the chorus, simple but catchy riffs and some killer work from the rhythm section. This is prime D.O.A. right from the opening chords and it does a fantastic job of setting the stage for the rest of the album. It also rightly calls for the arrest of a certain segment of the American political populace.

    A nice, rhythmic little bit of drumming opens Wait Till Tomorrow, but then the feedback rises up overtop and the vocals kick in. Keithley leads the charge, growling and scowling, singing in that delightfully pissed off way that he does, with the other guys filling in the backgrounds nicely. It’s quick, to the point, and, like everything else on this album, thankfully entirely devoid of fucking around.

    It Was D.O.A. is a bit more of a humorous track, starting off with someone asking ‘Hey man, you ever work with D.O.A.?’ before launching into an absolutely awesome tribute to Stompin’ Tom Connors’ classic song Tilsonberg. It’s not quite a cover but it’s damn close, as Keithley stories us about life on the road and the toils of playing in a longtime touring band like D.O.A..

    Things get political and angry again with Just Got Back From The U.S.A., the song with the catchiest chorus on the album – ‘Hey, hey, get out of my way, I just got back from the U.S.A.’ As you’d guess, it’s a musical rant against the current states of affairs south of Keithley’s native land. There’s a lot of material in that vein to mine these days and D.O.A. has never been a band to shy away from current events or modern politics.

    Speaking of, they cover themselves with Fucked Up Donald, updating their classic Fucked Up Ronnie for 2020. This was actually released on 7” in 2016 (with two additional tracks - The Cops Shot A Kid and Not Gonna Take Your Crap Anymore). You can figure out on your own pretty easily what this one is about. It’s a pretty effective updating of one of their best known tracks, and it hasn’t lost any of its edge.

    From there, they land with an interesting, if imperfect, cover of Neil Young’s seminal Hey Hey, My My. This isn’t the best song on the record by any stretch but it is a different take on a familiar Canadian classic, a bit fuzzier and heavier and considerably more straight forward and rock n roll than the original version. Keithley’s gravelly ‘gargling with razorblades’ vocal style works rather well here, but the mid-tempo style seems at odds with the more traditionalist hardcore style of every other song on the album. But hey, thumbs up for trying something different.

    The penultimate track, Gonna Set You Straight, gets things back on track. The bass here is nice and sludgy and this track is a lot looser than anything else on the record, but it works. Lyrically, it’s as pissed off as the rest of the material here, with Keithley ranting about how ‘I’m gonna set you straight you son of a bitch!’ It’s a fairly vulgar track, but in the best way possible. Righteous anger is always the best kind of anger and D.O.A. has always done a great job of channeling that. This song is no exception.

    The album closes out with It’s Treason, the fastest, angriest, most perfectly pissed off two-minutes’ worth of music. Great work on the backing vocals here, adding a bit of humor to things with the ‘wohhh ohhh ohhh’ bits worked into the background. It’s spot on, politically, and again, just chock full of that beautiful righteous anger that’s been part and parcel of their sound and their entire reason for existing since 1978.

    This band has been around for over forty years at this point, and they show no signs of slowing down even if Keithley is quite literally at retirement age at this point. Given his activism and involvement in the political scene in his native British Columbia, the odds of him hanging it up and calling it quits any time soon would seem to be slim to none. So long as he and the guys can keep cranking out music of this caliber, so much the better.