If the sound and intent of The Austerity Program can be encapsulated in a single lyric, it’s this line from “Song 26,” ostensibly the title track to the band’s 2010 EP Backsliders and Apostates Will Burn: “BLESSING YOU WITH AN AMPLIFIER!” It’s the cry of rage and the crash of a blunt object, and while I appreciate and even dig it, I have to also admit it’s a cry I can’t quite feel deep in the marrow.
That’s not to say I don’t enjoy the noise, or can’t understand the vitriol behind the decibels. I can and I do. But I think coming to The Austerity Program later in life ( I was already in my mid-30s with a wife, kid, and mortgage back in 2010) my time of finding that particular subset of anger had already come and gone with other bands like Bad Brains, Black Flag and the like. Even so, there’s something hypnotic about the way the bass, guitar, and drum machine link together in syncopated rhythms as Justin Foley’s warbling howl pierces through the numbered song titles.
Although I had known about the band and had some of their music digitally, it wasn’t until Hydra Head Records had a mystery box inventory sale that I got a physical disc for this EP. And while there’s not a lot I can say about the minimal packaging, I can wholly recommend snatching one of these deals the next time it ever comes around. I think this was was $40 for 40 CDs randomly selected. It’s an amazing opportunity to discover new music and support smaller labels.