Content With Dying by Chokehold

Chokehold is a metallic hardcore band from Canada that, while only staying together about six years, was a very established and influential act in the straight-edge/vegan hardcore scene. Their second album, “Content With Dying,” is easily their angriest and most passionate, which is really saying something; if there’s one thing Chokehold never lacked, it’s passion.

You can agree or disagree with their viewpoints, but you’ve got to respect a band that can put their message before their music and still come out with a near classic. Their messages aren’t uncommon either. In fact, they are still controversial with views on religion and abortion. The latter is discussed in the song “Not a Solution.”

Now, I’d be lying if I told you this band was made up of excellent musicians, but that wouldn’t be the point even if this album did put the music first. A good amount of time on the album is spent playing clips from an old Young Republicans Youth Choir record – basically a man discussing the negative points of America, as the band goes on to counter his arguments in the next song. The musicianship is not the point, as this record is impressively simplistic. Keeping a mid-tempo throughout, the band just plods and chugs along with some of the most made-for-headbanging riffs in the genre, best demonstrated in the opening track, “Underneath.”

As good as it is, the album could use a bit of remastering. The production is very raw and suitable for this type of music, but it feels hollow at points, with a lack of low-end, and the drums are turned up higher than they should be, even though they themselves are produced well and sound very tight.

The guitars should dominate the album; they’re perfectly distorted and full of groove. Much more so than their previous effort, “Prisoner of Hope.” The band has cut back on the amount of breakdowns and melody from that album, and made the vocals more discernible while keeping them just as intense.

Vocalist Chris Galas delivers his politically charged lyrics in a clear shouting style. His voice couldn’t be stronger, and the same can be said for his lyrics, like those on the track “Conditioned”: “Does anybody care? Or are they too busy watching and learning? Glued to the TV while the rest of the world is burning.” Just like the musicianship, the lyrics are simple yet powerful.

“Content With Dying” isn’t the most varied record; it’s more or less the same kind of metal-influenced, chuggy riffs throughout, but this album’s twenty-some minutes of music doesn’t give them enough time to get old. In fact, if anything, there’s not enough of them.

Sadly this was Chokehold’s last full-length attempt, but it remains one of the best in the genre, not to mention the heaviest and most memorable. It’s an essential addition to any collection of ?s hardcore fan, and shouldn’t be overlooked by those interested in the genre.

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