Album: Asfixia Social – Bleeding in the Sun

I first encountered Asfixia Social when I was reading the May reviews from Dane Jackson’s monthly column “Ska, Punk, and Other Junk”. A ska band out of Brazil that put out a new album definitely struck my intrigue, so I wrote a little note to myself that I should check it out- and a few days later I did. This is one of the first current Brazilian bands I’ve heard and the first time I am reviewing any South American band.

I really wasn’t sure what to expect when I started this album, but what I wasn’t expecting was a blend of skacore, punk and rap that might be best described as a mix between Rage Against the Machine, Bob Vylan, and maybe Voodoo Glow Skulls. Angry, political, smooth flows, shredding guitars, catchy riffs, blended with a stellar horn section that tends to accent the rest of the song instead of stealing the focus.

The album begins with “Electromagnetic” which is a great table-setter. While it’s not one of my favorite tracks on the album, it certainly sets a great pace for what to expect. The punk riffs hit right out of the gate, the lyrical flow of the song is terrific, and it has the best guitar riffs on the whole album. Seriously, the guitar riff on this goes so damn hard, and then the horns layer on top of it at the end for amazing effect. Despite not sounding like a traditional earworm, two days after I first listened to this album I woke up subconsciously singing the lyrics to this song, and I was not upset at all.

“Don’t Act Like 911” shifts the tempo and is probably my favorite song on the album (what can I say, I’m a sucker for songs critical of the police). Here we get a bit of a faster song with a little more reggae and ska influences but not at all letting go of the punk and rap elements. Despite lyrics like “You call the cops because you think we’re criminals, but you forgot The cops are criminals too”, this song is far less critical of the police than it is of people who limit their scope of the world and choose to overreact and call the police to solve all the problems that they make up in their head. 

The third song on the album is the closest thing to a true ska punk song on the whole album and features Joe from D.O.A. At just over 2 minutes, “Traffic Lights” hits quick, is catchy, and the rhythm of the drums pulls you onto your feet and into the pit. Every time I listen to this album I’m impressed with how each song borrows from so many genres and feels very different, yet definitely belongs to the same artists. Each song shifts your mood a little, and pulls you in a different way. This one definitely leads a younger version of myself into a mosh pit.

“The planet is alive” is arguably the best song on the album. It has some of the most aggressive beats, it feels like a Rage Against The Machine song with a heavier punk influence- both in style and in subject matter. If I were to pick a single song to represent the album, this would be it. If you were to listen to one new song today, this song should be it. Besides, if you can’t get into this song, you’re not likely to enjoy the band, and they probably don’t want to count you among their fans.

“Vai Vendo” is entirely in Portuguese, so I can’t say much about the song, other than that I wouldn’t be surprised if they wear Guy Fawkes masks on stage when they sing it. The guitar is heavier than most songs and feels more hardcore punk than most of the tracks, and without going into each of the final three tracks, I do want to shout out “Dub and Jerry” for being a much more traditional Dub and ska track except the only lyrics are whispered and worth listening for. 

The album ends on a slower song that feels like it has the purpose of inspiring hope and love and to make sure you don’t leave the experience with anger in your heart. The album has a message, a call for action, yet ends with hope. Be angry, but don’t let the anger live in you. It’s not an accident that the album ends like this, it’s the mellow closer to ask you to live in peace, but it’s called “On Your Feet”. It’s asking you to be happy, but to bring that happiness to yourself. Get on your feet. Let the music move you, but let it move you to make the world a better place. Let it move you to be the impetus for change. 

Written by Gimpleg