Propagandhi - Potemkin City Limits Review

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Propagandhi - Potemkin City Limits
Propagandhi - Potemkin City Limits


General Information

Original Author: Owen

Artist: Propagandhi

Album: Potemkin City Limits

Genre: Progressive Thrash Metal, Punk, Hardcore

Initially Released: 2005


01. A Speculative Fiction
02. Fixed Frequencies
03. Fedallah's Hearse
04. Cut into the Earth
05. Bringer of Greater Thing
06. America's Army™ (Die Jugend Marschiert)
07. Rock for Sustainable Capitalism
08. Impending Halfhead
09. Life at Disconnect
10. Name and Address Withheld
11. Superbowl Patriot XXXVI (Enter the Mendicant)
12. Iteration


I initially found out about Propagandhi browsing around an internet forum, the topic of conversation being the most technical punk band musically, Propaghandi's name was mentioned on numerous occassions.

Interesting, I thought, even the name commands attention, combining the word for deliberatey spread untruths for political or moral advantage with the name of a man who advocated the destruction of dictatorship and tyranny through open public defiance. Needless to say, Propagandhi's clever fusion of two contrasting ideologies made me expect much of what I was to hear. I was not disappointed.

The band blends elements of hardcore punk with more modern thrash metal, a composition of ideas that would make most Metal elitists gasp in sheer horror, however, the resulting product, or bastard offspring, is a great technical accomplishment of fast-paced catchy riffing, powerful choruses, break neck speed drumming and lyrics attacking any immoral or unjustifyable cause they can get their hands on, even the album name for example smacks of disenchantment, a Potemkin City being "a political term referring to a false construct intended to hide an undesirable situation".

We've all heard the mainstream media's concept of modern day punk, we're misguided into thinking that 'American Idiot' is the most radical and left wing politically induced record produced all year. Propagandhi blows such bands out the water with their sheer audacity of expression and quality of refinement in their music.

This is no backyard recording of three supercilious adolescents screaming about their opression at the hands of their parents, this is quality stuff, as for a band of Propagandhi's lyrical distinction they are lucky to be allowed near a studio or record label.


The lyrical content here is nothing short of astounding, its punctual, delivered almost as a story, but of opression and greed, lies and tales of a failed democracy. Right from the outset Propagandhi do not mince their words, the opening track contemplating a cold war between Canada, the bands home country, and the USA:

We got a good 15 years left ’til the United We Stand murals on West Broadway finally fade and we wave good-bye to such sad, childish refrains. Replaced with other stupid lullabies like you can have my guns when you pry them from my cold dead hands. Just a speculative fiction. No cause for alarm.

This is without a doubt one of the most powerful attacks on modern America's ideologies in recent years, the comparison of disenchanted upholders of the second ammendments self righteous warblings to lullabies is simply priceless and whilst this is just the outset of Propaghandi's lyrical massacre of the system, the rest of the album simpy does not let up, Die Jugend Marschiert is a prime example of this :

Welcome to the offices of Economic and Manpower Analyses here at our historic and sprawling West Point Academy campus! My name is Mindy! It is my distinct pleasure to introduce you to a loving father of three (and a champion of the sanctioned use of armed force in pursuit of policy objectives). Ladies and gentlemen, put your hands together for the project director of our newest recruitment strategy; our mission to staff future combat systems through current technologies. Without any further ado, I give to you Colonel Casey Wardynski!

(warm applause)

Thank you! Let me begin with some sentimental appeals to our national myths; assorted clichés coined by the state; the ideological shorthand meant to sweep your private doubts [away] of this virtual training course. This portal; this Trojan Horse that you living idiots paid for and actually rolled into your own kids’ rooms.

(stunned silence)

Oops, did I just say that out loud? Oh, well, it’s not like it’s something new. It’s just the logical extension of the decades of bilge water that you’ve let us pump into your homes. The pink noise that hums away in the background while you run the gauntlet we force on you everyday. The billowing candy floss that helps to soften the blow. Deep down you’ve always known that your children already belong to us, so why don’t you cut the outraged parent routine, shut your mouth and get back in your seat. Your children already belong to us. What are you? You will pass on. And they won’t know a fucking thing but this ‘community,’ this real life Ender’s Game. Forget what you think you know.

Propagandhi this time target the lies and deciet of the army in its infiltration of American homes. The Trojan horse Chris Hannah refers to is the infamous America's Army video game, the glorification of combat in peoples own homes, all the opinions that everyone has inflicted upon them without their knowing, the undercover propaganda people refer to as the news.

There is simply so much to discuss here, views and concepts to debate over, the attack of mainstream 'sellout' punk in the sarcastically entitled 'Rock For Sustainable Capitalism':

I fuckin’ love that one rock video where that fucking jack-ass mohawked millionaire prances around by far the worst sausage party on earth, where by mere chance he’s caught on film shaking hands with an incredibly diverse collection of patriotic skins. I like the message it sends: With a Rebel™ yell, Just Do Exactly What You’re Told. One million douche bags can’t be wrong? “When did punk rock become so safe?” You’ll excuse me if I laugh in your face as I itemize your receipts and PowerPoint your balance sheets. I hear this year’s Vans Warped Tour is “going green!” I guess they heard that money grows on trees.

To the attack on America's war mongering, Donald Rumsfeld being metaphorically put in the dock on the last track of the album;

Donald wept through the proceedings. His tears soaked through the canvas that cloaked his twisted face and they stained his orange jumpsuit where with such rare distinction he once displayed the evidence of his outstanding contributions to the maintenance of a kingdom come. But those days are gone. He’s nothing more than a number on a docket thick with shareholders, engineers, PR firms, politicians: war-profiteers.

The sheer brilliance of Propagandhi is that they dare to say what no one else would, they dare to push the boundaries of what the modern world deems as an acceptable opinion, the lyrics have been branded elitist, self righteous and incorrect, yet they surge on, they keep pushing, screaming, shouting until someone listens to them.


Hannah's vocal style is as blatantly upfront as his opinion, the half singing half shouting style clearly audible enough to demonstrate his lyrical arguments but powerful enough to impress his disdain and anger upon an audience, he suits the purpose that was intended and his range and stylings have drastically improved down the years to make this some of Propagandhi's best work to date.

Guitar & Drum Work

Thrashed power chords, ringing lead sections and drums hammering out blast beats, whilst this may not sound as technical as it truely is, Propaghandi are remarkably able for a three piece punk band, theres some fantastic lead sections and chordal parts spread throughout the entire album, a cleary audible bass line in the mix and a drummer that can hammer home the opinions of the hollering vocal line. All in all, a very good musical arrangement.

Overall Impression

Facetious, cynical and upfront - this is not an album that minds it's P's and Q's or airs any graces with the majority of the average right wing American, Brittish or Canadian populous. It's a smack in the face to what most people believe to be the truth. Potemkin City Limits is an advocator of clear thinking, a destroyer of religious twaddle, a saviour of the ill-informed.

Notes of the causes that Propagandhi support litter the album liner, they are all human and animal rights fanatics, vegans and anti-homophobes, doing their best to be as morally just as possible and in their words to: do our best within this insane framework of capitalism to live cruelty-free lives.

It leaves such an impression that I'm almost inclined to feel slightly guilty about eating a bacon roll before headbanging away to 'A Speculative Fiction', am I ready to be totally moral? Not quite yet, but Propagandhi have done a good job of pushing me slightly in the right, or should I say left, direction.

Recommended Tracks:
01. A Speculative Fiction
06. America's Army™ (Die Jugend Marschiert)
07. Rock for Sustainable Capitalism

Sample : America's Army