Now twenty years into their career, skate punks Chaser sound as blistering as ever on their 2020 release ‘Look Alive’. Although only a two track 7” release, its pair of songs acts as a sharp reminder of the SoCal band’s blend of high octane riffs and social commentary driven lyrics. Released at a time when the world appeared to be falling apart – mass protests in the US suggest an urgent need for a change of government and a global pandemic pretty much wrote off the year – their messages of unity and togetherness are exactly what’s needed.
Shrill rhythm guitars topped with a dominant lead kick off ‘Look Alive’ before the track drops into a classic, classic skate punk sound. At full speed, the drums and guitars combine to evoke strong memories of the finest Pennywise and Strike Against material, though a general tightness within the already familiar arrangement and a stronger sense of melody within the vocal makes this superior to both. The track is barely out of the starting blocks before frontman Mike LaDonne delivers the crux of an important message: “Fight the proud, all sing loud / A song for equality” he booms, before suggesting the world is “a work in progress” and it’s only a “story we can finish when we’re in unity”. Giving the riffs and the message a real boost, a whole world of harmony vocals and whoahs call back to peak NOFX from the ‘Punk In Drublic’ and ‘Heavy Petting Zoo’ days, further making this a hook filled, punky belter not to be missed. There are no lead breaks; no extra flourishes and no musical showboating – this is solely about a great riff and an important message. With a brief hardcore breakdown and the second half of the track stoking up the whoahs and making sure the huge hook is delivered again for maximum impact, this could be one of the best punk tracks of the year.
On the flip side, ‘Found Myself Again’ is a little more melodic hardcore and a little less skate-oriented, but with a a superb chugging riff colliding with a snare drum on the instrumental breaks, a band with a huge power is still evident. The bigger shift towards hardcore shows off a superb rhythm section throughout, but drummer Davey Guy is especially sharp when dropping into a heavier groove, while lyrically, its messages of turning points, change and of needing strength and recovery demonstrate why Chaser are smarter than so many other punks.
Although there are times when Chaser sound like at least three other punk bands you’ve known and loved for some time, they play with enough energy and conviction to make their contributions to the scene really count. This is a release not to be missed…and with all band proceeds being donated to four different non-profit organisations, you know these guys aren’t just all talk.