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PENNYWISE Never Gonna Die gets 7/10


Pennywise
Never Gonna Die
Epitaph

7/10

In what’s reassured fans they haven’t seen the last of them yet, and probably won’t for some time, Cali punk rock legends Pennywise have brought forth another dose of their iconic chaos-inducing ruckus with Never Gonna Die. It’s another breakneck punk rock festivus that, much like their earlier work, won’t stale with age.

Although it’s essentially thrash music, the band’s twelfth full length album is littered with topical and thought-provoking lyrics. Songs delve into themes close to the band, particularly socio-political issues they’re at odds with. They also take on issues of mental health and maintaining positivity when things are on the down, often in reference or tribute to the struggles and 1996 suicide of founding bassist Jason Thirsk. There’s also a strong call for a generational uprising to encourage positive change in the world.

Opening with powerful title track Never Gonna Die, things kick off with a gentle riff before you’re thrust into the chaos of fast guitar-driven beats that are instantly recognisable as Pennywise. The angst and intensity is strong in American Lies and they waste no time bringing it not only front and centre, but in your face and down your throat, with a similar political intensity to 2001’s Land of the Free?

Keep Moving On and Live While You Can dig into overcoming personal struggles and pose as somewhat pick-me-up anthems when you’re feeling a little down and out. It encourages listeners to keep on striving forward despite the demons trying to pull them back and to seize the day and never give up. The songs manage to seamlessly merge melody with a touch of aggression for catchy tunes likely to be popular live.

Despite their somewhat hardcore punk rock persona, Pennywise don’t hide from emotional issues. The take-home message of tracks like Keep On Moving On is just that, with lyrics “Stay strong and carry on. The only thing that matters is your life”. Things are toned down slightly in the regretful and nostalgic personal confession of She Said before jumping into the somewhat more radio friendly Can’t Be Ignored and Goodbye Bad Times which sees more melodic vocals from Jim Lindberg again but still managing to hold that raw, undiluted feel.

Political and social issues are front and centre in Can’t Be Ignored, A Little Hope, Can’t Save You Now and Listen. Lindberg’s distinct gritty vocals topping the fast-paced instrumentals make it impossible not catch the beat, but will still leave you with a little disgust with everything wrong with the world. The melodic Won’t Give Up the Fight is without a doubt going to be a crowd-pleaser live, with its infectious beats and vocals.

Things get personal again in the hope-filled All The Ways U Can Die which takes aim at fans in a real dark place or time, with encouragement to rethink any drastic problem-solving decisions. These decisions have implications on everyone around you and it’s something the band knows all too well, and it shows. While they may seem an unlikely fit, Pennywise continue to act as genuine ambassadors for suicide prevention with songs like this.

Album closer Something New emphasises the broken status of socio-political systems and the need to do something about it. It’s time to take control and to make change happen to break the cycle. By doing nothing, we are merely just accepting the problem

They’re older, but still producing powerful music that’s as upfront and relevant as they ever have been before. If you’re not already a fan, Never Gonna Die probably won’t change your mind but for those who are, it’s a welcome addition to the Pennywise discography. Play it loud and sing along with conviction, but also take the time to listen to the messages behind the music.

RYAN ELLIS

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