“There are forces out there that want to see you suffer. When you are too tired, exhausted, miserable or apathetic to stand up for your rights, they will take them from you. That is the shock doctrine.”
Few descriptions of an album’s inspirations are so succinct and so apt than COPE guitarist Josh Bowles’ summary of the band’s debut album The Shock Doctrine. It’s also a rather fitting title given that the band released a couple of EPs in 2016 and 2017 but have been mostly quiet since, bar the odd single now and then - especially when opener ‘Life In 3D’ bares its teeth and immediately goes for the throat.
The pummelling, churning riffs show a marked step up from previous EP Tooth & Nail, and they’ve also clearly upped their chorus game with ‘Gold’ even channelling a little of early A Day To Remember with its gargantuan, yell-along refrain and 'Jailbird’ showcasing another shoutalong paired with riffs guaranteed to turn any venue (or living room, for now) floor into a maelstrom of limbs. COPE have excellent command over breakdowns too - ‘Empire’ in particular pulls out all the stops and bludgeons with wild abandon.
The state of the world and injustice has always been a driving factor for COPE, from ‘Life In 3D’ taking inspiration from the first person posting instructions for a 3D-printed gun online to taking aim at social media addiction and putting social media influencers on undeserved pedestals (‘Influenza’). The Shock Doctrine is no different, issuing a call to arms steeped in vicious riffs and visceral vocals, demanding people stop looking at their phones and instead look at the world around them, to the problems that need fixing before it’s too late.
Before penultimate song ‘Damned If We Don’t’ once again comes out swinging there’s a rather odd interlude ‘Territory Missing’, a jig that wouldn’t be out of place in a Looney Tunes episode but with a brief voiceover castigating humanity’s over-reliance on fossil fuels and their environmental impact. Despite the thematic tie-in with the rest of the album, it’s jarring and out of place and given that the album is fairly short anyway, a tad unnecessary. But it also acts as a way of breaking up the band’s aural assault that, as well-crafted as it is, does begin to wear somewhat in its sameness.
COPE may be a little one-note, but it’s a note they’re bloody good at, refining their sound over the last three years means that every moment here hits like a sledgehammer and bar the very brief interlude, it doesn’t let up at all. The Shock Doctrine is a rage-fuelled hardcore thrill ride that kicks harder than steel toecapped boots, an all-out bludgeoning assault with huge vocal hooks and even bigger riffs that demands and absolutely deserves your attention.
The Shock Doctrine is self-released May 22nd. Pre-order the album here.