Middle ground. A unified understanding. Societies getting along. Are these merely the pipe dreams of a utopian dream, or can they somehow be achieved through a variety of actions or words? Only time will tell us these things that we have pondered for so long. Of course, there are the doom junkies and the naysayers who will tell you otherwise. The End Is Near. Jesus Saves. Where Will You Be On Judgment Day?
Having grown up in the South, I see a lot of instances of religious fundamentalism each and every day. I was always happy that my parents had come from different backgrounds, moving to my home state of Tennessee in the early Sixties and settling down in a basic liberal-minded Presbyterian church. I was taught to respect others, not hate them for their race, sexual orientation, or other common human circumstances that are not a matter of one’s choosing. I was also taught that religion is something to rejoice in, not be afraid of. So it was with much confusion while growing up that some of my peers were coming up to me now and then, asking if I was “saved” . . . and if I wasn’t, then I would surely be going to hell. Nice shit to scare a kid with, no?
But as I grew older, I learned that this is just a way that people decide to worship, even if I thought it was rather odd that they would so seek God’s love yet turn around and condemn not only their neighbors, but entire societal groups who weren’t necessarily following along their chosen paths. According to some of these people, you’re going to hell if you’re a homosexual, if you don’t accept the Christian doctrine (again, as interpreted for YOU by these fundamentalist factions) as stated word for word in the Bible, and a myriad of other things. Well, excuse me for thinking that God really is about peace and love and doesn’t set aside entire nations to be damned to hell. But to some of these folks, religion is nothing more than an official finger pointing excuse to act holier than thou.
Yes, this is a music review. Sorry for the sermon, but I needed it to introduce this band in question. They’re called Corporate Avenger, and they seem to be seeking that sacred middle ground where we can all come together and live in harmony while tearing down religious and governmental facades in their song lyrics. It seemed like a really nice idea when I first began to listen to this disc. However, as the songs played on, I saw that the guys in this band were no better or more “right” than the fundamentalists and politicians they rally against. Why? Because they themselves have failed to find the middle ground. Instead of balancing things out, they have tipped the scales too far in the other direction, causing some of their songs to just come off as silly, which is kind of a shame. I think this band could bring to light some interesting points if they didn’t decide to push just as hard as their opponents.
The music itself is a pretty damn nice mix of beat heavy/deep bass/electro-rock that pounds along in the catchiest way possible without becoming overbearing. So there’s no qualms there. If you like your rock chock full of tough riffs and mountain shaking bass work, then Corporate Avenger is your band. But for the moment, let’s just take a look at some of the songs’ lyrics. The album itself comes with a Parental Advisory sticker on the front, and in this case I can think of no other recent album that needs a sticker more than this one.
A glance at some of the titles will tell you what’s going on here. Take your pick from “Fault The Police (I Don’t)”, “Christians Murdered Indians”, “The Bible Is Bullshit”, “Voting Doesn’t Work”, “Jesus Christ Homosexual”, “Drug Dealing God”, and “Heaven’s Joke”. Needless to say, Corporate Avenger seems pretty pissed off. And I suppose we should start with “Fault the Police”.
“I don’t cry when the police die cuz they probably deserved it / Run around with a badge and a gun, and they goddamned fuck with everyone / Enforce rules made by fools, violence and their tools / They dress to oppress with the laws they arrest and they leave us powerless”. Strong, interesting words. But does the band offer any solution to their complaints? No, they don’t, leaving us with an open-ended conclusion. Corporate Avenger dislikes the cops and the laws they enforce, complaining that it’s a real bitch to live day to day, but they don’t offer any alternative. Sometimes I guess it’s just easier to cry.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, one of the things the band is ranting against is the current marijuana laws of the US. In “Drug Dealing God”, they open with “Wanted by the US Government, The Lord God Almighty, Creator of Heaven and earth. For the creation and cultivation of the plant marijuana on the planet earth.” Sorry, but I find that sort of melodrama just downright cheesy. Corporate Avenger wails on, claiming God put the plant there, so therefore we should have free use of it. I won’t let personal politics enter into this, because it’s pointless, but once again I’m left scratching my head because the band tosses out no solutions. They want peace, they want love, they want their natural drugs, but they do nothing about it but kick and yell and point their fingers.
The ridiculously titled “Jesus Christ Homosexual” attempts to point out that the Bible says that God made man in his own image, therefore God must have been a homosexual since there are homosexual people. It’s an interesting point, perhaps not to be taken literally, but made to at least open the eyes of the fundamentalists who condemn homosexuals and say such things like “If they’d only turn to Jesus, they’d be cured”. I actually heard a girl say that one time in my speech class in college. I wondered to myself where she was when God was handing out understanding and acceptance. But I digress. It’s just hard for me to take the song seriously, even if I sort of see the point the band is making when they spout such things as “Not saying that it’s good, not saying that it’s right, but could the Virgin Mary have been a hermaphrodite? / She was with child without having a man? / And that’s the only thing I don’t understand / JESUS CHRIST HOMOSEXUAL”. Tell me how reeling off such zaniness as this any better than the other side preaching hellfire and brimstone?
“The Bible Is Bullshit” goes on to condemn Christians for having murdered Indians. But on top of that, Corporate Avenger continues once again to push too far in the other direction by singing lines like “The Bible is bullshit / The Koran is a lie / The Bagavad Gita did not fall from the sky / These are the books that were written by men / They’ve caused wars, now follow if you can”. Again, they’re touching subjects that have aroused similar feelings in myself when having religious debates with the my-way-or-the-highway people. I agree that our religious tomes were written by human hands. I agree that there are many parables within the texts. But I don’t piss on them, or put them down just because of that fact. But Corporate Avenger fails to see any way to bring about a sense of unity between the “oppressed” and the “oppressors”. They preach that their very own highway must be followed. Sorry, but I don’t buy that. I believe that through an open mind and understanding we can find a peaceful common ground. This band’s playground bully attitude is no better than the interpretations of various sacred texts as preached by those they despise. Although, to their credit they do add “It’s time for you to love one another / It’s time for you to recognize your brother / It’s time for us to stop killing our mother / It’s time for us to care for each other . . .”, but not before shouting “The Bible is bullshit” one last time.
I suppose I don’t have to get into the protests against the government in songs like “FBI File” and “Taxes Are Stealing”. It’s more of the same, basically. Ranting with no alternative solution. The kinds of things that make conspiracy theorists thrive. “FBI, CIA, IRS, DEA / Civil rights all gone away / FBI got a file on me / Set all drug offenders free”. Souped-up hardcore hippie ethics for the new generations, all wrapped up with a phat beat. Elsewhere, the cops take it on the chin again in “Pig Is a Pig”. Do we see a pattern forming here?
Am I offended by Corporate Avenger? I would say I probably am. Even in my own liberal mind, these guys have shaken me up just a bit. I just wish they gave us something else to think about other than the so-called fallacies and conspiracies they have attempted to bring forth. Anyone can rant. Not everyone can bring about peaceful solutions. For a band that supposedly wants peace, it’s interesting to note how often they let their own anger control their actions. Sure, it would be nice to be able to live in a world that didn’t need laws to protect people, where everyone was free and got along and accepted others’ beliefs or opinions without condemnation. But that’s not the real world. Pain and suffering is a daily component of life. I’d love to see the world turn around as much as anyone. However, I don’t think that Corporate Avenger’s songs are going to quell any of our global fires. And as a somewhat light note to end this sermon on, apparently some of the band’s own fans aren’t too happy with this release, as seven of the tracks here were previously released on the The New Testament release last year.
So much for corporate rip-offs.