Released in Europe through Taken By Surprise Records in August, 2015, The Dead Hand of Tradition has been made available to North American audiences, courtesy of B.C.’s Deranged Records. Red Dons compile themes and experiences of the continental distance between band members, backed by melodic punk. The new album breaks through the stifling canopy that has been weighing down much punk music in recent times. And breaking through is what Red Dons have been doing throughout their career of periodic 7-inch releases.
The Dead Hand of Tradition is a driven start-stop ride, without much of the stop. Where the guitars go silent at a moment, the bass rolls on. “Together Apart” transitions back and forth between a four chord chorus line and a dance rhythm that draws a parallel to the Arctic Monkey’s “I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor” days. The album matures into this trend for a few more tracks until it steers into the heavy, bass driven “Weakness.” The title track follows as another non-stop ride up to the break after the second chorus, which breaths in a collection of noise for half a minute, and bursts back into anthemic vocals over the ceaseless rhythm.
A notable synth section on “Every Single Word” sticks together a raw fusion of post-punk and pop. The lyrics speak unmistakably of the hopelessness that drives people towards distorted, power chord genres: “Out on the pavement / People see through you / Just practice what you’ve been taught / It’s never been your fault.”
By the end, the music has built on the ideas explored throughout the album and culminates into a signature sound that could only belong to the Red Dons. The concluding track, “Empires” contains thumping bass, sharp guitars, and loud — yet eerily consolatory — vocals. What remains to be seen now is whether the band decides to pursue an album based approach or continue their methodology of abrupt releases.