Local punk legends D.O.A. return to their roots for their 30th anniversary as a band, with Northern Avenger, their 12th studio album. Packed full of energetic songs, the album was produced by Jamey Koch and Bob Rock, the latter having worked with Metallica, the Offspring and long standing Vancouver punk group the Pointed Sticks. For some punk bands, being linked to a commercial producer might signify an artistic crisis. But for a band as raw-edged as D.O.A., this is an ideal partnership, and the result is an album that is fast, lean and dirty.
With the exception of a cover of John Fogarty’s “Who Will Stop the Rain,” all songs are written by singer Joe Keithly. “Poor Poor Boy” is an interesting juxtaposition of a song with lyrics about hunger on Hastings Street backed by ska instrumentation. “This Machine Kills Fascists” (an accolade popularized by Woody Guthrie long before it was an Anti-Flag song) is a departure from the typical D.O.A. sound, but it is so short, that it sounds like an intro to the anti-war “How Long Till The Day,” which follows it rather than a fully fleshed song, which is a shame because it’s quite good. Perhaps the refrain that symbolizes both the album and the band itself is the anthemic “Still A Punk,” which addresses the relevance of the movement in today’s political climate. In a time where punk has become synonymous in coordinating your eyeliner with those little plastic bracelets (for both males and females; mainstream “punk” having achieved gender equality in fashion, if nothing else) the dissenting voice of D.O.A. is as relevant today as it ever was.