Album of the Week 10-2014: Warrior Soul – Salutations From The Ghetto Nation

While debut album ‘Last Decade Dead Century’ is generally considered the definitive album for New York’s Warrior Soul, I have personally always seen their third record ‘Salutations From The Ghetto Nation’ as the band’s crowning achievement. It’s on this release that the unlikely, but surprisingly successful combination of huge Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin inspired riffs, eighties Glam Metal sleaze, Post-Punk bleakness, Guns ‘n’ Roses-ish grooves, the primal energy of the Punk movement and Kory Clarke’s left-wing political lyrics works best.

In a way, this 1992 release sounds like a celebration of the decadence and excess of the preceding decade as much as a parody of it. The influence of the eighties LA scene is pretty apparent in the enormous riffs and the beefy production of the album, while Clarke’s lyrics leave no doubt that he wasn’t at all content with the Republican-led America of the era. Look no further than the harsh irony of ‘The Party’ for proof. Clarke’s vision and assertiveness is a big part of what makes ‘Salutations From The Ghetto Nation’ what it is; the fact that he has something to say makes for a lot of the aggression and effectiveness of the record.

Even though ‘Last Decade Dead Century’ had more – and better selling – singles than ‘Salutations From The Ghetto Nation’, the latter obviously has the better. Opening track ‘Love Destruction’, with its big riff, stomping rhythm and powerful build-up, is probably the best single the band has yet released, while the somewhat lighter ‘Shine Like It’ should have been the single that made them big, but I’m sure that the tensions between the band and Geffen Records significantly decreased their chances to make any commercial impact at the time. The quality of the material is undeniable though.

Many of these songs are supported by the power of John Ricco’s riffs. ‘Trip Rider’ has one that brings Black Sabbath’s ‘A National Acrobat’ to mind – not to mention a fantastic guitar solo – and ‘Blown’ has a fantastic midtempo headbanger to build upon. However, even when the band settles for a Rock ‘n’ Roll groove and slightly less heavily relies on the politics, it works. ‘Ass-Kickin’ is pretty self-explanatory in that matter, but the sheer Stooges-inspired Protopunk madness of the awesome ‘Punk And Belligerent’ – which reminded me strongly of The Stooges’ essential classic ‘Search And Destroy’ – probably makes for the album’s most powerful and brutally effective moment.

Following ‘Salutations From The Ghetto Nation’, the band’s ongoing conflicts with Geffen and the dissolution of the original band basically killed all of the momentum that the band had built up and because of that, this album is sadly sometimes unrightfully seen as the beginning of the end for the band. In reality, it’s their artistic peak and although I have tremendous respect for Clarke for soldiering on for so long, this is the album he might never be able to top anymore. Then again, some musicians would kill for something this good. Only friends of governments everywhere should stay clear of this. All Rock, Metal and Punk fans should find something of their liking here.

Recommended tracks: ‘Punk And Belligerent’, ‘Shine Like It’, ‘Love Destruction’

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