You cannot buy the revolution. You cannot make the revolution. You can only be the revolution. It is in your spirit, or it is nowhere. Ursula K. Le Guin, The Dispossessed
The proliferation of a medium typically leads to a more diverse array of messages, which has certainly been the case for metal over the last several years. Unfortunately, subgenres like black metal continue to harbor problematic viewpoints; National Socialist Black Metal is alive and well in the underground. Yet, the democratization of the style has accompanied a growing movement of bands infusing the genre with much needed ideological diversity. Black Flags Over Brooklyn released Riffs for Reproductive Justice earlier this month, featuring noteworthy black metal bands from Azerbaijan (Violet Cold), England (Dawn Ray’d), Minnesota (False), New York (Woe), and elsewhere raising money for women’s reproductive rights. The existence of a politically-charged compilation featuring international bands is a testament to metal’s growth, however gradual.
Dispossessed are a powerful and necessary addition to this trend. Decades of subtle and overt nationalism within the black metal community must now make room for lyrics decrying oppression. In the case of Warpath Never Ended, the band’s ire is aimed at the colonization of Australia and disregard for indigenous people and land. In the band’s words:
This album was recorded on the unceded lands of the Gadigal people. We pay our respects to elders past, present and far into the future. This will always was and always will be Aboriginal land.
The fire is still burning. We pray for the day that it catches and the land can be healed amidst the ashes. The grip of the coloniser will be broken, and until then we fan the flames together. There has been no surrender. Sovereignty has never been ceded. The warpath never ended.
Without pressing play, it should be a safe assumption that Dispossessed’s lyrics are fueled by unbridled rage. The band take aim at not only colonization, but also capitalism, the patriarchy, white supremacy, and “all forms of domination.” On proper opening track “PC TERRORIST,” the band lambastes the “Venom in our veins/Venom in our water/Venom in our dreams,” declaring that they’re “Hardened by hate/Flesh turns to steel/We will not bend/We will not break.” In a similar way on “THRONEBREAKER ZERO,” the band bellows that “Our spirits are an effigy/To inhuman suffering that you inflict, that still persists/We will pray for the day that the skies go gray, and we set to flame … all built in your name.” There are plenty more incendiary lyrics worth touching on, but I imagine you get the idea.
Of course, as we touched on above, no message is deliverable without a medium; these lyrics would have a muted impact if the accompanying music wasn’t similarly ferocious. Thankfully, the songwriting on Warpath Never Ended is just as violently impassioned. The cries of venom on “PC TERRORIST” erupt from cavernous, war metal brutality. The blackened death march is comprised of colossal riffs, pummeling blasts, and bellowing roars. Similar to “THRONEBREAKER ZERO,” the track is accented throughout by atmospheric black metal riffing in just the right measure.
“BLACK GAZE” is appropriately melodic and a bit more reserved, the perfect segue into the speed and stomp of “BLACK METAL.” The one-two punch of “BLOODIED INFLORESCENCE” and “GUNI YU-GI” offers some sonic respite, with the former taking a slower, doom-oriented approach and the latter featuring just field recordings and acoustic guitar. These tracks are in stark contrast to the title track, a bunker buster that ends the album in a manner befitting its central themes.
Dispossessed’s greatest strength is recognizing that, in times like these, subtlety is largely ineffective. The band’s lyrics, music, and overall delivery are as blunt as possible on Warpath Never Ended, and it’s a stronger release as a result. The band have crafted a devastatingly heavy listen to coincide with their urgent, deeply personal ideology, making for an impactful release on all levels.