Over the course of their colorful 35-year career, Canadian punk icon Joe Keithley and his band DOA have never lost sight of their populist politics or their sense of humor. Among other achievements, DOA had the distinction of being the band on Jello Biafra’s corrosively seminal 1991 ep Full Metal Jackoff, the Bush I era dissection of rightwing divide-and-conquer politics which remains as spot-on accurate today as it was then. And they’ve got a brand-new album, We Come In Peace, out on Keithley’s DIY label Sudden Death Records which shows that they may be bloodied but hardly unbowed after all these years. The songs are catchy, tight and surprisingly eclectic, Keithley still sings with a gob in his throat and has nothing but contempt for the ruling classes and their collaborators.
The opening track, He’s Got a Gun kicks off with a nasty pickslide, imagining what happens when a Tea Partier goes postal. It’s classic tuneful oldschool punk, guitar wailing all the way through the chorus as the bass goes up and hits the highs, hard, with a cruelly funny ending. Boneyard, featuring Hugh Dillon is a ghoulish, lickety-split galloping Motorhead-style riff-rocker, while Dirty Bastards, with its bagpipes (?!?) is a solidarity march, sort of a more authentic version of what Big Country was going for back in the day. Built around a vintage Euro-siren hook, Do You Wanna taunts would-be right-wingers. Bloodied but Unbowed (the title track to their well-loved 1983 lp) is just as catchy and perceptive as it was then: “I see cameras always being used, I see brand-new laws as they tighten the noose, I see freedom disappearing, I see Patriots [meaning US long-range missiles] rising…”
Bring Out Your Dead has a tongue-in-cheek, metaphorically loaded zombie theme and an unexpected slide guitar solo. They speed up the Beatles’ Revolution (and give the lyrics a bit of a needed update), cover Toxic Reasons’ War Hero as Subhumans-style punk reggae and return to reggae a little later with the considerably mellower Walk Through This World, referencing the Clash version of Bankrobber. We Occupy, a timely ska-punk anthem, is a duet between Keithley and Jello Biafra; with its call-and-response vocals, Who the Hell has a Sham 69-ish vibe, while Lost Souls echoes Social Distortion with its semi-acoustic intro, Rhodes piano and anthemic grandeur, and Man With No Name ventures into ghoulabilly territory. The album ends with a new acoustic version of General Strike, a well-loved track from their 1985 album Let’s Wreck The Party. Not a single bad song here: they mean it, man. Songs of freedom to sing (and drink) along to as the revolution makes its way across the ocean from Syria and Greece.