When you think about Swedish bands that have left an undeniable mark on music, despite their incredibly respectable tenure it's not likely your first thought will go to Raised Fist. The Swedish punk band have been doing the rounds for over 25 years and are now presenting their 7th studio album, Anthems. Outside of Sweden they may never have managed to reach skyscraper, but in the walls of their homeland you find a band of unstoppable force.
The band are well-known for their old school punk sound, with a flair of post-hardcore blended in: rough on the edges and in your face when it needs to be, a similarity they share with their country companions Refused. Listening to Anthems, you'll notice the production style is a lot more polished, clean and processed than the bands previous endeavours. Unfortunately, this results in a much more bland sound. There are few moments here that grip you by your throat or punch you in the face.
It's hard to find whole songs that deliver a strong impact, but the opening track 'Venomous' and 'We Are Here' get the closest. The former promises heavy blows, with some strong riffs and melodies in the intro and verse, but by the time the chorus hits, that grasping feeling has dissipated. The latter though deviates slightly from what you'll find elsewhere on Anthems - and introduces more melodic hardcore elements in the instrumentation.
Overly polished production is not the only flaw you can find in this record. Vocal performance, lyrics and the overall lack of creativity are also determining factors in the records descent. The vocals feel oddly strained and become monotonous after listening to it for a while. Songs like the title track and 'Murder' contain what might be the epitome of uninspired lyrics. Diverging from politically inspired lyrics, the subject matter on these tracks doesn't reach much further than "we are Raised Fist, and we make music".
Instrumentally, there are some bits that definitely stand out. In particular, intros to songs like 'Oblivious' and 'Polarized', but as with the rest of the theme that runs through Anthems, the momentum sadly usually wears off by the time the vocals hit. For a record clocking in just under half an hour, your expectation that Anthems would almost certainly be a rampant, multi horned beast is soon dismantled, and it's hard to argue that this was worth the five year wait since Anthems predecessor.