The Unseen, with A Global Threat, Career Soldiers and Johnny Switchblade & the Blackouts

The Unseen espouses a peculiar political platform. The group champions the poor, though it prefers that taxpayer-funded social programs ignore destitute drug addicts ("For over 40 years you broke your back / But they gave your money to some bum on crack"). Singer Mark Unseen says he's "pro-violent against the state," but he favors free health care, the better to aid bystanders who absorb errant bricks during his proposed proletariat uprisings. He issues the venomous kiss-off "Fuck you America! Goodbye America!," yet his band remains based in Boston, well within the country's borders.

Clearly, the Unseen's shouted slogans don't reward literal interpretation. With their gaudy peacockery (spike-studded jackets, saw-blade haircuts) and violent threats ("if terror's what you represent, terror's what you're gonna get"), street-punk bands can be just as theatrical as black-metal acts. The Unseen isn't actually assaulting authority figures any more than Goatwhore conducts satanic sacrifices. But this lyrical content often proves cathartic for its performers ("Playing punk keeps me sane") and empowering for its disenfranchised fans. Purists swear by the early albums, as purists are wont to do, but the Unseen's recent releases contain welcome traces of nuance, and thanks to producer Ken Casey, they no longer sound as if they were recorded direct-to-boom-box.

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Andrew Miller