The Hunger & The Fight Part 2 - The Mahones
Whiskey Devil Records
Canada can be duly proud of The Mahones. After two and a half decades honing their craft, they rank amongst Irish Punk's elite. The Irish qualifier would be almost unnecessary if it wasn't so close to their heart, because The Mahones really are one the finest punk bands in the world. But, the telling of the Irish experience in story and song from both the homeland and the Diaspora was essential to realizing the epic two album concept behind The Hunger & The Fight. Part 1 brought us the hunger in all it's aching beauty; the struggle, the perseverance, and ultimately the preservation of the Irish heart in general and The Mahones in particular. It's been a rough road for both. Through great storytelling and penmanship the Irish strength in the face of adversity rang through in the opening scenes of this punk opera. But, personally, the band would suffer a major blow; the loss of beloved bass player and brother in arms, Paul (Cuzo) Mancuso. To be dealt such a mortal and emotional wound while building a powerful head of steam was crushing to say the least. Summoning that dogged Irish persistence, The Mahones returned to the studio, emerging with The Hunger & The Fight Part 2, dedicated to the loving memory of their fallen friend and raging with even more ferocity than the first half. A brief, languid uilleann pipe piece, 'Reamhra' opens scene two, gently reminding listeners that Irish blood still courses through the tracks that follow in examples like 'The Irish Brigade', 'Alternative Ulster', and the admiration for the Irish aristocracy in Camelot with 'JFK', plus a haunting traditional aire, 'The Parting Glass' as a final farewell to lost friends. What lies between, however, is nothing short of incendiary. Part 2 could just as easily been called 'The Density & The Intensity'. The Mahones explode with shock waves of raw punk combustion. There isn't a single crack in the wall of sound that Finny McConnell and co-producer, Dave "Brownsound" Baksh (Sum 41, Black Cat Attack) have not crammed full with guitars or howling harmonies. At blistering speed, the harmonic wash is invigorating; life affirming. 'Punk Rock Saved My Life' is uncaged at the last skirl of the pipes. Again, Finny rips out a screaming love letter to his punk rock heroes, wearing his influences safety-pinned to his sleeve. 'Sea of Skeletons' maps out the journey from Part 1 in Dublin to Part 2 in NYC; a journey of tragedy when millions fled the famine only to perish in the infamous coffin ships. 'Turn This Town' is the band's collective tribute to their favorite spot in New York. The working class LES, despite gentrification still echoes with the history of the Irish Diaspora. There are a couple of other surprises to discover and a 'Fuck You' for good measure that you just need to hear to appreciate. If The Hunger & The Fight Part 1 set the charge, Part 2 blows it up in spectacular fashion.