Grab your passports, ladies and gentlemen; we’re going to depart on a little musical adventure to Central America. Costa Rica, to be exact. Hailing from the capital city of San Jose, Reaccion Direkta are proof that even a tourist-industry-driven country that boasts a stable democracy with no standing army, a well-organized welfare system and the longest life expectancy in the Western Hemisphere (okay, aside from Canada) can have a seedy, anti-establishment, dyed-in-the-wool punk rock underbelly.
The four-piece outfit released their debut EP, “¿Cuál Democracia?” last year. Mixed at the legendary Blasting Room in Boulder, Colorado, “¿Cuál Democracia?” features seven songs of pissed off, punk rock aggression. The band cite NOFX, Bad Religion, Propagandhi, Rise Against, Anti-Flag and Pennywise among their influences, so you can take a guess as to what they sound like.
Album opener “Desadaptado” comes out swinging with a sound very similar to early Pennywise in its straight-forward intensity and earnestness. “Adelina” is perhaps a little more melodic than some of the other tracks, and more traditional “punk” sounding. The guitar solo sounds eerily similar to something you’d expect out of El Jefe.
The title track turns the boys’ all-out assault toward the bourgeois media, particularly toward El Nacion (national newspaper in Costa Rica) and their perceived lack of interest in holding the Costa Rican government accountable for societal issues. “Yankees” is pretty thrashy and features a metalicious guitar solo. “Politica o Religion,” as you might expect, finds the band voicing their general distrust of all things political and religious. More NOFX sounding guitar work, catchy chorus. Altogether probably the most accessible tune on the album despite (or maybe because of) the anti-government, anti-religion lyrics (see, they are inspired by NOFX!).
“Victimas” reminds me of early Lagwagon crossed with Propagandhi. Chant-a-long, fist-pumping (but not in that Jersey Shore way) chorus about being marginalized and repressed by society, and the need for a revolution. Punk! “Credo” closes things out with a sound that is akin to early Unwritten Law in the intro, though there is almost an Iron Maiden quality to the guitar tone. The sound turns thrashier in the verse and chorus, and features Matt Freeman-ish bass licks, though the outro is sloppily compost and just, well, fizzles out.
All told,”¿Cuál Democracia?” is a hell of a debut album from a band that has shared the stage with the likes of NOFX, The Casualties, Bouncing Souls and the Misfits. If “¿Cuál Democracia?” is any indication, they more than held their own!
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