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The Used continue to aim at oppression

By Matt Gantos
On April 10, 2014

The Used has always stood to take aim at oppression and the wrongs of society, while commenting on love and drugs. Their latest album, "Imaginary Enemy," hit the web on April 1 and continued down those lines.
The album starts off huge with a song called "Revolution," a common theme, talked about in previous albums and between songs of their live performances. "Revolution" is just the first of many incredibly intense songs etched into the album.
The beginning of the album as a whole can be easily classified as 'intense.' Some of the older albums by these guys featured treble lead guitar lines and big vocals, while "Imaginary Enemy" is a bit on the heavier side.
It's not to say that the band has never gone this heavy, for example songs like "A Box Full of Sharp Objects" and "Maybe Memories," but it's a bit more extensive on this album.
Don't worry: there isn't too much screaming. The track "Make Believe" features the famous Bert McCracken vocals that really define the sound of the band. One bold move that they decided to do was use a fair amount of vocal distortion and auto-tune in some songs.
It doesn't sound silly nor is there question as to McCracken's vocal ability, it was just more surprising than anything. Insert stereotypical statement about how bands are free to change their style however they like because it's their art here.
Even though the beginning of the album was intense, it starts to cool off with "Make Believe" and "Evolution." There must be some sort of play with "Revolution" and "Evolution" because the tracks are so different in terms of sound and lyric but the titles are so similar. It would be hard to believe that it wasn't intentional.
It could be the band's way of saying that they are two different events that are needed to move forward, and although they are so different, they are both necessary.
My favorite track on the album was "A Song to Stifle Imperial Progression (A work in progress)" which alternated back and forth between making you want to head bang but then dance.
The dance feeling is created by Dan Whitesides on the drums hitting the hi-hat on the second and third beats and resting on the first and fourth. Listen to it, you'll understand better.
As always, there's few songs about love and drug use, areas in life in which McCracken has suffered some serious trauma. But the album as a whole is focused on antisocial and anti-government ideas, hence "Revolution," "A Song to Stifle Imperial Progression" and the title track "Imaginary Enemy".
The album art is itself is star studded with world renown public figures with a bar of red paint across their eyes. In the mosaic of faces one can recognize Hilary Clinton, Kim Jong-il and his son, Martin Luther King Jr. and Pope Francis, among others.
The music as a whole was as always masterly crafted and you could tell they put the work into all of the sublties, but it seemed short. It has a total of 11 tracks but they flew by. It was also a shame that the intensity seemed to fade after the first few songs. A great album, with of course a hidden track at the end. If you are a fan of the band or post-hardcore give it a listen.

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