Paul Hebert

Green Day – “21st Century Breakdown”

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21st Century Breakdown, the smashing new punk rock-opera from legendary trio Green Day debuted earlier this month at No. 1 on the Billboard top 200 albums chart. The album is the eight studio release available on Reprise Records. This release puts an end to a 5 year break between studio albums, the longest in their career.

The album features 18 tracks which, while they all are amazing as individuals really are meant to be taken as a whole. The tracks are classified into 3 separate acts.

Act 1 – Heroes and Cons, (tracks 2-7), sets the stage as the 2 characters of the album Christian and Gloria are introduced. The duo is clearly upset at the current government restrictive policies and proclaims the generational failures of our society. Track 3 Know Your Enemy asks “Do you know your enemy?” and explains that ‘Silence is the enemy” and ask for a revolution.

¡Viva La Gloria! is a great love ballad that starts off very slow, and then opens up into classic Green Day hard rocking style. Christian’s Inferno is a break from the normal sound of Green Day and has a very alternative rock feel to it, with Armstrong’s vocals processed on several verses to sound as if they are being projected through a megaphone.

Act 1 ends with Last Night on Earth as Christian professes his undying love to Gloria.

Act 2 – Charlatans and Saints, (tracks 8-13) opens with East Jesus Nowhere, a scathing attack on religious fanaticism, which asks “I want to know who’s allowed to breed.” The album takes an interesting turn withPeacemaker, the backing guitars have a very middle-eastern feel, as the song claims “As GOD as my witness, the infidels are gonna pay.” Murder City is classic Green Day , it takes off running right from the start and doesn’t let down until the end. Restless Heart Syndrome brings the second act to a close in a slow melodramatic song that claims “What ails you is what impails you.”

Act 3 – Horseshoes and Handgrenades (tracks 14-18) defines the punk in punk-opera right from the get go with the hard hitting title song for the act. Horsehoes and Handgrenades hits you square in the face from the opening notes, followed by the lyrics “I’m not fucking around.” The song is an angry anti-establishment track, claiming that “So don’t you fuck me around because I’ll shoot you down.”

The Static Age is a fast moving not so heavy track that takes on the over-advertising in today’s society. “All I want to know is a God damned thing, not what’s in the medicine.” 21 Guns is a startling revelation questioning America’s involvements in war, asking to “Lay down your arms, give up the fight.”

American Eulogy is a 2-part song consisting of Mass Hysteria and Modern WoldMass Hysteria is a battle cry ending with “America is falling, vigilantes warning ya, calling Christian and Gloria” while transitioning to Modern World and the battle cry “I don’t want to live in the modern world.” The final track See the Light brings the story to a nice close, recounting the journey of Christian and Gloria, asking “I need to know what’s worth the fight.”

The album as a whole is by far one of the most creative and possibly best albums Green Day has produced, and will play out amazingly live.

Green Day kicks off their US tour on June 4 to a sold out show in Hollywood, at The Music Box at the Fonda, if you don’t already have your tickets for the opening show, they will return to Los Angeles on August 25th at the Forum, tickets for this show go on sale June 6.

Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

Key Tracks: “21 Guns,” “Know Your Enemy,” and “Viva La Gloria”

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