It’s no secret that I enjoy my punk rock crusty, loud, aggressive and simply unrelenting. It’s because of that penchant that Tragedy is likely one of my favorite bands of all time. The blend of hardcore and punk, combined with the classic d-beat sound of the British punk wave often border on death metal. In fact, Todd Burdette even took some of his Darker Days Ahead style of compositions and formed the blackened death metal act Nightfall.
Tragedy is forever uncompromising in their post-apocalyptic take on the current state of the world. Their drums sound like oil cans on fire, their guitars sound like the missiles of a thousand warplanes and their vocals are the parched throat screams of a desert mob.
So I figured I would take a little time to shar with you what I believe are nine of Tragedy’s best songs to date. Now, we are limited for this by what Spotify has on board. So we will be going through the CD versions of their four full-lengths. I urge you to consider their 7″ releases, in particular Can We Wall This Life. If you’re interested in more stuff about Tragedy, I wrote a retrospective on their self-titled debut that you can read here.
“The Point of No Return” – Tragedy
Starting out Tragedy’s career after a brief acoustic guitar intro is “The Point of No Return.” The track is the perfect debut of Tragedy’s extreme aggression, particularly lyrically. The track also features both Todd and Billy on vocals using their classic call and response formula that would forever be a huge part of their career.
“The Intolerable Weight” – Tragedy
For all their speed and ferocity, Tragedy often includes both an instrumental, nightmarish interlude as well as a more moderately paced track. “The Intolerable Weight” is the latter of those two. The track contains a gang vocal and the absolute throat destruction style of pure anguish vocals that force all listeners to take Tragedy deadly seriously.
“With Empty Hands Extended” – Tragedy
“With Empty Hands Extended” is a typical drone style track. Tragedy often employs this raw, didactice style on each of their albums. For this track, although musically in line with many of their nighmarish instrumentals, vocals are on full display as this slow burner tears through your soul.
“Vengeance” – Vengeance
“Vengeance” features a loose, near-slapping bass following a jumpy drum pattern and another signature style of explosive guitar playing. The track even modulates at a few points for dramatic effect. Vengeance is very much it’s own beast and very much Tragedy’s best overall work. The title track is a prime example of why.
“To The Dogs” – Vengeance
Potentially the most motivational of Tragedy’s catalog, “To The Dogs” was originally featured on a UK 7″ that was sold during a tour. The same track was then slapped onto Vengeance and it couldn’t have fit better. With drum production that rivals an almost 80s style, Tragedy becomes almost danceable, if not a band to bob your head to. “To the Dogs” is an absolutely viscious attack on governments and warfare that is as inspiring as it is brutally blunt.
“No Words” – Vengeance
Vengeance ends on a brutal note with “To The Dogs” followed by “No Words.” Tragedy often employs the fade out on songs as lyrics are sung in a semi-canon and “No Words” is no different. Again featuring multiple vocalists, “No Words” actually employs a hardcore, 2-step style breakdown led by their simple, melodic and expert guitar playing.
“Force of Law” – Nerve Damage
Nerve Damage felt a lot like Tragedy’s attempt to remake Vengeance. While that feat is nearly impossible, Nerve Damage is, nonetheless, a fantastic album in its own right. “Force of Law” is a terrific example of song that would have been at home on Vengeance yet works completely fluidly where it is placed on ther followup LP.
“Under the Radar” – Nerve Damage
“Under the Radar” is a strong third favorite for me on this album. My No. 1 favorite is actually a final track that was available on the LP (and not the CD) entiteld “Pista 11.” Yet, just because it’s third favorite doesn’t mean that “Under the Radar” is any less of a track. Tragedy are experts at using a vocal style that calls to mind Lemmy yet throws that image and seriousness into an entire differnet galaxy.
“Power Fades” – Darker Days Ahead
As Tragedy slowly calmed down and the tracks because darker, doomier and generally blackened, the result was naturally Darker Days Ahead. This album, and specifically tracks like “Power Fades” are songs that bridge the gap between Tragedy and Nightfell. Seamlessly combining the punk and hardcore of Tragedy with the blackened death metal of Nightfell. The result is something almost spiritual.