ATU live at Scumfest / photo by Sean Fitz
I can't remember when or how I first stumbled across Appalachian Terror Unit—it was probably thanks to Black Tusk's Andrew Fidler, now that I think about it—but what I do know is that I've loved them from the moment they exploded into my ears and forced me to pay attention. ATU is a loudly, proudly anarchist punk band from Huntington, West Virginia. Growing up in the heart of coal country left a profound impact on Chris, Sarah, Matt, and Kris; a significant amount of their recorded output rails against the ecological damage inflicted by the mining industry and the injustices suffered by the working people whose hard labor kept the country running. As Sarah howled on the band's 2008 debut LP, Greenwashing, "Down with King Coal and off with his head!/Will be the only shouts heard as we avenge our dead."
Lyrics on environmental issues, anarchist ideals, animal cruelty, solidarity with feminists, LGBT folk, political prisoners, and oppressed people worldwide, and the police state dominate their other screeds, and the music itself is as simple and deadly as a Molotov cocktail—brash, urgent, thrashy, crust-speckled anarcho-punk, crowned by enraged dual vocals. A fair few of their songs hinge upon political rants dressed up as quiet spoken-word passages, which adds an interesting dynamic and ensures that their most important messages will come through loud and clear.
I just discovered that ATU gearing up to release a brand-new album. We Don't Need Them, which is due out soon via Profane Existence in North America (Ruin Nation Records and Skuld Releases will handle its European release). For now, ATU has made two new songs available as pay-what-you-want downloads on their Bandcamp page.
"Casualties of a Rape Culture" is a simmering rallying cry that attacks sexism and our country's often poisonous attitude towards sexual assault—"Sisters of the world we will never be quiet/We have a voice we will not drown in the silence /We have to stick together we have to fight back/No more violence no more attacks"—while "Officer Down/Warehousing Prisoners" is a ripper crust epic that pulls no punches in condemning police brutality—"Fuck your authority and the power you misuse/May you forever be haunted by those you've abused/The father you shot, the protesters you maced /The kids you abused. the women you’ve raped."
Listen to both here, and be sure to read the lyrics:
Catch Appalachian Terror Unit on tour with ISKRA and Krang this summer!
Kim Kelly is trying to figure out how to make it to that Vancouver show; for now, she's on Twitter - @grimkim