Once upon a time, Justin Foley from The Austerity Program and myself were meeting up for a hang. And when J.Fo (as his friends know him) emerged from the subway, he had a copy of the Bible under his arm. And I thought, “Oh, fuck, J.Fo has lost his goddamn mind,” and quickly searched for someplace I could hide before he saw me. The bad news is, I didn’t find a hiding spot in time, and the good news is, J.Fo had not found God. Rather, he was simply challenging himself to read the Bible cover to cover, because he’d never done so before, and also, presumably, because he’s overcome with self-loathing and wanted to punish himself.
But it’s not like he didn’t get anything out of it: Bible Songs 1, The Austerity Program’s latest — and, in my not-so-humble opinion, strongest yet — offering. As J.Fo himself explains:
“A few years back I realized that we keep returning to the same lyrical theme: people trying to make sense of things beyond their control. Around the same time I challenged myself to read the Bible start to finish (a near three-year slog). About a third of the way through, I saw that the narrative voices in the Bible frequently synced up with the desperation in our music and this persistent lyrical subject.
“So this record – ‘Bible Songs 1’ – just battens the hatches and sails right into it: six songs about the worst parts of the Old Testament. The misanthropy and murderous zealotry are right at home as we’re push well beyond the musical boundaries of our past. King David’s proud sexual transgressions, Moses’s demand for genocide, Zedekiah watching all his sons split from navel to chin – it’s all here.”
The first track on the album — and the first one to be released — is “Isaiah 63 2 – 6.” That’s a fairly typical Old Testament message about God being a wrathful, narcissistic dick. In other words: it’s the perfect subject matter for a metal song.
But even if you don’t care about any of that, you should be bale to enjoy “Isaiah,” ’cause, well, it just plain rocks. Predatory bass intertwines with anxious guitars, an insistent beat, and J.Fo’s appropriately ecclesiastical vocals to create something that feels at once immediate and hypnotic. The 2:13 mark also features the year’s best use of white noise in a metal song.
Check out”Isaiah 63 2 – 6″ below. Bible Songs 1 will be out June 14 on Controlled Burn Records, and can be pre-ordered here (Euros, get it from Throatruiner Records here). In addition to Foley, The Austerity Program’s line-up is rounded out by Thad Calabrese (bass) and Drum Machine (percussions).
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