With their new album “Live For Today”, featuring three live songs, the East Coast band, Boy Sets Fire, has continued to define the term “political punk.”

Their unique combination of hardcore and emo sound, powerful lyrics and compelling vocals by lead singer Nathan Gray has enticed new fans and pleased loyal devotees.

Without a break between Europe’s Deconstruction Tour and the Warped Tour, Boy Sets Fire continued on to record three live songs at New Jersey’s Club Chrome, where they were greeted by a mob of dedicated fans.

On the album, wild screams and eager cries from the crowd express the growing moments of intensity before the band plays “After the Eulogy”.

The lyrics of this song express the definitive Boy Sets Fire mindset. When Gray sings “suggesting arrangements while others are dying, stand up, fight back,” he demonstrates his disgust for the growing apathy and ignorance concerning the underprivileged.

According to Gray, the band absorbs the energy of the audience during performances, pushing them to attack the songs with a more aggressive tone.

Despite the remarkable quality of the live songs, “Live For Today” lacks a major element of the actual Boy Sets Fire shows ? Gray’s charismatic political statements between songs.

Without the messages against things like big government, the increase in militarism since September 11 and the necessity of laws to maintain personal freedoms, there is an emptiness to the tracks of the new release.

Of the studio recorded selections on the album, “Bathony’s Sainthood” complements Gray’s vocal range, moving from softly intense to a belligerent shouting throughout the song.

His harsh guttural sound is more clearly emphasized in “Release the Dogs”, a more frantic selection with violent and passionate lyrics.

Boy Sets Fire goes beyond simply expressing political beliefs within their guitar riffs, capturing heavy emotion within the lyrics of studio recorded “Rookie” ? “I used to be a lot like you but now I’m only me, drunk to pills to shots turn into shock, a habit and a pawn.”

Although many fans will initially be disappointed by the small number of tracks ? only six ? on “Live For Today”, Boy Sets Fire has already announced a full album release titled “Tomorrow Comes Today,” expected in April 2003.

There is no doubt that the political punk rockers have succeeded in gaining support for their talented musicianship as well as for their politics.

As with their past albums, Boy Sets Fire continues to emphasize their political views through hardcore jams with “Live For Today.”

Welzer can be reached at bwelzer@campustimes.org.

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