Remember when you were young and filled with vitriol and fire? You know, those days where you grabbed the world by its lapels on a daily basis and shook it till it gave a damn? Back when you shouted at the top of your lungs into the black void that was existence until your spittle was blood red? If you don’t remember those days (like me), then the F**king Panthers have you covered. They’re here to shout in your face and make your ears bleed with a mix of metal, hardcore, and anything that is ragged, jagged and mad as hell. Two Ways of Life is their newest long player, and in under 50 minutes they deliver their sermon straight from the book of Black Flag. Churubusco, Indiana, a town half way between “nowhere special” and “not much at all,” doesn’t really offer much in the way of an underground music culture. But despite being born and bred in small town Hoosierville, the guys in F**king Panthers have somehow found inspiration in the hallowed halls of record labels like SST, Sub Pop, Rough Trade and Epitaph. Their debut album, 2011’s Learning To Die, proved they had the energy to put pure adrenaline to tape. After three years the guys have tightened up their sound and have amped up the Rollins roar in the vocals.
“Rise” is classic hardcore, mixing both early 80s California punk with hints of East Coast thrash. “Don’t Fall Asleep” even hints at early Slayer when they still sounded like a young, Satan-worshipping hardcore band. “Hit Me I’m Amish” is sure to become standard listening at local barn raisings, while “Frozen In Carbonite” has a Mastodon heft to it. “Bottle Rockets and Lightning Bugs” sounds almost the way you’d imagine a song with that title would, somewhere between a small town round barn stomp and a mosh pit lullaby. “Winter” nearly hits some classic rock notes with some harmonized guitar lines and a bit of a melody coming from the barked vocals. And ode to their hometown, “Churubusco,” ends the album like a tough love mantra about escaping from your beginnings to make a new start. Some people never cross that county line, but the guys in the F**king Panthers will never have that problem.
I’d say the Panthers’ outlook has improved. They’ve gone from Learning To Die to Two Ways of Life in just under three years. But don’t think a more positive outlook on life is complacency. Two Ways of Life is anything but complacency. (John Hubner)