Racetraitor’s reunion, with intentions to lambaste white nationalism amplified by Trumpian demagoguery, came with real promise. Seventeen years passed between the band and their last EP, and members of Racetraitor experienced lives from which they could newly interpret their righteous rage. In a Chicago Reader interview, vocalist Mani Mostofi spoke of his and bassist Brent Decker’s work in human rights law and anti-violence projects, respectively. Mostofi stated that he and Decker had “seen things and met people [they] once only sung about in the abstract”.
Building this new perspective before writing a political album in one of the most chaotic eras of U.S. politics ultimately resulted in 2042 (Good Fight Music)—Racetraitor’s most evolved and evocative record to date.
On its surface, 2042 is simply a brilliant metal record. Dani Binaei and Eric Bartholomae’s guitar compositions brim with earth-scorching treble picking (“By The Time I Get To Pensylvania…”), occasionally convulsing in dragged notes and palm mutes (“Cataclysm”), sometimes punctuating in unsettlingly calm melodies (“Rooz Va Aftab”).
The lead guitar avoids unnecessary pomp, occupying a more visceral sonic space shared by birds of prey and civil defense sirens. Mostofi’s growls are tooth-baring and vehement, milked of none of their venom. Clever drumming by Andy Hurley keeps every song engaging, making for a record that’s deeply satisfying to complete in one sitting.
If you pierce the surface of this brilliant metal record, you reach the blazing intention behind Racetraitor’s return. Lyrics like “We are your multicultural nightmare” (“Black Xmas”), or “False nativism, false machoism, a fantasy” (“Cataclysm”) target rampant hyper-nationalism, xenophobia, and toxic masculinity. Mostofi manages to address sociopolitical issues in an instinctive, direct way that adeptly avoids overstepping its position in allyship, which is deeply appreciated.
At its core, Racetraitor’s 2042 is a potent piece of resistance in a time where every ounce of resistance is needed. While we’ve made progress as a nation since the band’s last outing in 1990, its glaringly apparent that many of our sociopolitical difficulties either haven’t been remedied or have evolved into something more nefarious.
Of course, many phenomenal new artists are tackling these issues: Soul Glo, HIRS, and Amygdala, to name a few. In fact, that’s exactly why it’s so exciting to see bands like Racetraitor reunite and release great albums. By recognizing their privilege and power, then seizing them as tools for radical change, Racetraitor can do so much more than release and perform an amazing new record. They can uplift and ignite a new generation of politically radical musicians.
Purchase the album here.