Loathe as I am to admit it, American War Machine’s Unholy War is a very forgettable album. First, the positives of this album must be addressed. Unholy War is an album made by punks, for punks. The title track has a very raw opening but quickly ends up in the middle of the road. As for the next few tracks, there’s not much of interest until “Farther To Fall,” which finally grabs your attention with some much-needed snarl.
The crunchy “Becoming Death” is a nice headbanging worthy follow up and the funky and punky opening of “Assimilated” automatically makes it the best song on the album with the thrashy riffs and gang vocals serving as icing on the cake. Unfortunately, as soon as Unholy War gains some momentum it falls back into Joe Six-Pack territory. A comeback occurs on “Beautiful Death” but even the competent guitar soloing can’t save the album from falling on its sword.
Hardcore punk is a genre that adheres to a very strict set of rules or lack thereof, and even though hardcore bands have become better musicians, you can only get so far by following the rules. For a band that features current members of Agnostic Front and Slap Shot, you can already count on formulaic precision reinforced with a combined centuries worth of on the ground knowledge. Such as it is, not everyone can be the best at following the rules, and not everyone has to be.