War… war never changes.
As much as I respect Hacktivist, I gave ‘Reprogram‘ when it dropped back in April some flak for being low-hanging fruit in terms of the issues it covered; just the normal Hacktivist spin on government control, technology, social media, “wokeness,” brain-washing and so on. Yet it’s the complete opposite effect here with their newest tune, ‘Dogs Of War.’ Now, war isn’t a new lyrical topic for Hacktivist, but the band haven’t been as genuine, as direct, nor as researched about that subject as they are here on ‘Dogs Of War.’
Whenever there’s any kind of heated political discussion online these days, you’ll often find people omitting actual sources and others (rightfully so) demanding sources when bold and/or spurious claims are hastily trotted out. Which is why I love this new Hacktivist video: it actually has sources backing up what the group put forward. Sources all range from NATO, Action on Armed Violence, the UN, to Brown University’s Costs of War, and many more. As this song is all about the war on terror, its collateral impact, the deceit, the grim statistics, and how these conflicts are funded by not just the U.S., but also by the U.K. (the band’s home) and Saudi Arabia, among other big players, as well. And topics like this are so easy to distort so you need the truth to cut hard and deep.
“This theme is very important to us especially as we are in an age of seemingly perpetual warfare. Everyone is affected by these continuous wars in some way, even on subtle levels through taxes, fuel prices and economics. We wanted to address the fact that war has now become a normalised part of everyday life and how it’s increasingly clear that it’s being conducted in the name of control and profit. The other factor is that, as much as we’re all dogs of war being dragged into one international campaign after another, it’s the armed forces on all sides who are being used and exploited to an even higher degree.” – Hacktivist.
Even with a mention toward the shady neoconservative think-tank, Project for a New American Century (PNAC) at the start of the clip, ‘Dogs Of War‘ isn’t just some anti-American, anti-Trump war-piece; it’s about the sham of the U.K.’s Ministry of Defence (MOD) and how much of the larger West propagates warfare for the profit of a few, leaving countless civilians displaced, with the bodies of hundreds of thousands piling up more and more. And Australia is just as guilty in these roles, from it’s arm sales to Yemen or via the Northern Territory Pine Gap facility and how it aids America’s drone program.
Couple this with pin-pointed lyrics towards the profit-over-people actions of English and American governments, the atrocities that are happening in Syria, the bombings and humanity crisis occurring in Yemen, wide-spread misinformation, lucrative arms trades, the world’s current refugee crisis, and you’ve got one serious, meaningful anti-war anthem on your hands. ‘Dogs Of War‘ isn’t generalised talking points or a band trying way too hard to shock people with graphic images: the song and its video (directed by bassist Josh Gurner) keep the message clear at all times; for all of us to “catch on” to the unspeakable shit happening around the world; to do our best to always stay informed. And in Hacktivist keeping the visuals simple – the quintet “performing” the song in a football field – and over-laying it with the written text helps to keep one invested in the actual information that’s put forward. Which is the most critical element with works such as this: the message being clear and the info being legit.
Musically, in terms of composition and arrangement and structure, this is pretty par for the course for Hacktivist’s sound, but a solid one at that: it’s got the bounce, the riffs, the prog-metal parts, and it’s the perfect level of aggression and frustration for the topic at hand. It’s quickly becoming a fave of mine for their catalogue, that’s for sure.
Also similar to ‘Reprogram,’ it sees newish guitarist James Hewitt and vocalist Jot Maxi bringing a lot to the band’s sound and their energy, making the transition from older material into what will no doubt be a new EP or full-length record soon enough more than smooth. I also think this is the only heavy track ever where a vocalist has barked and I’ve actually tolerated it. So take that for what it’s worth.