Monday, July 13, 2009

OpeNightmare - 'The Harder They Come'

If there’s one thing the French are good at, it’s bein’ ornery. Oh, and losing wars. But mostly just being ornery. French punks OpeNightmare, albeit fronted by Belgian Yves Vai, fit that description mighty well. The band’s third full-length, The Harder They Come, while at times tedious, serves up riotous punk rock.

OpeNightmare is a play on the name of the atom bomb’s “father,” J. Robert Oppenheimer, and not a lazy spelling for Open Nightmare. This makes the pronunciation sound slightly exotic despite being inspired by a guy who lived and died in New Jersey. That’s where the exoticism ends, though, unless you count the liner notes’ info about helping out with education and art in France… and the cute way Yves says pronounces “fuck” as “fahk.” Yves sings in English, so us ’Mericans should have no trouble getting behind humanitarian tunes like “No Fun Atom” and “You Don’t Know.”

This is standard punk – think Anti-Flag, Tiger Army, and maybe Rancid (2000), only more homogeneous. At 40 minutes, The Harder They Come could stand to shed a few of its 13 tracks. Punk songs about being super wicked punk tend to suck, and “Rock’n’Roll Sucks,” a pro-punk/metal tune, is no exception. “No Buck No Fuck,” in which the narrator tries to kill a woman on the street after killing his wife, could probably go too. Depending on your perspective, it’s either a depiction of humans’ darker elements, like a weaker “Johnny Hit and Run Paulene,” or a lame Misfits retread. So, it’s either offensively terrible or terribly offensive. While “Sleeping With My Boss” examines the complex dynamics behind prostitution, “No Buck” comes off like a stereotypical horror show. It’s not inherently bad, but it’s still not on par with the rest of the record.

I have no idea if “Dragster Hollow Cost” is supposed to sound like a punk Rob Zombie or not.

Despite a few bum tracks, The Harder They Come has a decent percentage of solid songs. The first four tracks provide a strong 12 minutes or so of pogo-worthy punk. Skip the middle, and the record’s back-half comes off strong as well. “Dragster Hollow Cost” and “Burn / Destroy” add a little metal to the mix. All in all, not bad, not great.

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