With all the side projects put aside, Bay Area punks Rancid are back with their first album since Let The Dominoes Fall in 2009, their eighth in total, and seem to be at once turning back the clock yet still moving forward on …Honor Is All We Know.
While I’d be hard pressed to say that Rancid have made any bad albums, certainly Dominoes felt like a band going through a motions and, since 1995’s …And Out Come The Wolves, they’ve been constantly trying to live up to expectation on record (though from my experience their live show certainly has lived up to everything).
…Honor Is All We Know combines the closest to the energy and variety that was present on their undisputed classic, yet the band sound like an older, wiser, but nonetheless passionate, Rancid for 2014.
At the front of the band Tim Armstrong is, as ever, all loose slurred vocals and matching guitars, while Lars Frederiksen brings the more hardcore and Oi tinged vibes both vocally and on his SG. Meanwhile, Matt Freeman is once more a master of dancing around the fretboard of his bass and relative newcomer Branden Steineckert (this is his second album with the band though he’s been behind the kit with them for a good 8 or 9 years) sounds like he’s been on the drums with them forever.
From the off the album is packed with songs destined to become live sing-along favourites and, while in some hands some of the lyrics, including the album’s title track, could sound trite, coming from Rancid they are utterly convincing (and being back on Epitaph and Hellcat Records certainly adds some power to that after their brief stint sort of on a major).
My highlights of the album are the triumvirate of Collision Course, Evil’s My Friend and Honor Is All We Know which combine all the best of what Rancid have always done; catchy, dancey, passionate, high-energy punk rock with hints of ska, rock ‘n’ roll and hardcore laced into their DNA.
In the end, while it’s no …And Out Come The Wolves (I doubt anything ever will be), …Honor Is All We Know sits up there with Let’s Go and Indestructible as arguable close seconds and shows a band showing no signs of slowing down despite heading towards the point where some bands have trouble even putting together a single consistent song.