While disappointing to some lured in by its potential political implications, United Nations is not a field recording of Ban Ki-moon leading a particularly rousing session at headquarters, but rather, a makeshift screamo supergroup comprised of Thursday's Geoff Rickley and whoever else showed up in the studio on that particular day. Rumored, though not confirmed for various contractual reasons, to include members of Glassjaw, Converge, Head Automatica and The Number Twelve Looks Like You, the group is, in their own words, a tribute to emo-violence bands like Orchid and Reversal of Man, two names certain to elicit little-to-no response from 98% of potential listeners, but that remain fantastically frantic touchstones for the 2% that it registers with.
Those hoping for a glimpse at Thursday's new direction best look elsewhere, and quickly, lest they get smacked in the gob by a litany of flailing limbs, swinging microphones and socio-political bombast delivered at 150bpm. While the band does their best to emulate the late-'90s salad days of Ebullition, albeit with a thoroughly modern twist (the almost musique-conrete sound collage work of "Filmed in Front of a Live Studio Audience" and the free-jazz honking that "Say Goodbye to General Figment of the USS Imagination" slowly denigrates into), they never quite manage the feat, even though their heart-on-the-sleeve is always in the right place. They remain true to the genre, especially on opening one-two punch "The Spinning Heart of the Yo-Yo Lobby" and "Resolution #9", but that period was largely defined by bands that were living hand-to-mouth and thusly, went out and played each show like it was their very last, which, given their inherent volatility, was often the case. That's a difficult spirit to replicate for anybody, but it's harder still when your own personal circumstances (i.e. years in successful bands leads to more comfortable living situations, stability, etc.) are vastly different.
While certainly not a bad album, in fact by and large it's quite enjoyable, United Nations is destined to forever be haunted by the memories of screamo's past, and as such, never quite escapes the long shadow cast by the original throng of bands that left their blood & guts on the floor each and every night because their lives DID depend on it. (The entire United Nations album can be streamed on their MySpace - ed.).