Antibalas’ latest studio album, Where the Gods Are in Peace, finds the Brooklyn, New York, stalwarts searching for solace from U.S. political opportunism, greed, and vengeance. Over the course of five tracks and multiple stories, the group shouts a battle cry of resistance against exploitation and displacemen, influenced not only by Afrobeat, but punk rock, free jazz, and hip-hop as well.
Opening track “Gold Rush” tells the story of the devastation wrought on indigenous communities during the titular event. Lead singer Duke Amayo details the bloodshed and sacrifice endured by Native American legends Black Hawk, Sun Dancer, and Sitting Bull, while a heady groove gradually builds underneath and new rhythms and horns come in over the song’s 11-minute run-time.
On “Hook and Crook,” Amayo sings of the need to “detach from crooked hooks” to get a broader (“otherworldly”) perspective. These crooked hooks are what keep people in the thrall of power and the status quo. The song serves as a reminder that people have the power to remove those hooks, to wake up, march, and dance in defiance.
Though the stories on Where the Gods Are in Peace detail bleak circumstances, Antibalas is not in despair.
“I don’t see what’s happening in our country and around the globe as a problem, it’s an opportunity,” says Amayo in a release. “We fight the hardest when things are about to change. Our generation has the incredible ability to make things better for generations to come. We’re at a critical tipping point; it’s time for change.”
Writer’s note: In addition to contributing to The Manual, I work at a music promotion company, Distiller Promo, that is currently promoting Where the Gods Are in Peace.
Featured Image Courtesy of Antibalas/Michael Davis