Dropkick Murphys: The Gang's All Here: Pitchfork Review
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Cover Art Dropkick Murphys
The Gang's All Here
[Epitaph]
Rating: 7.5

The cover depicts soldiers racing to battle and military planes soaring overhead. A snare drum cadence launches "Roll Call," a gang vocal introduction to the album's first track. Songs such as the title track and a remake of the Irish folk tune "The Fighting 69th" further illuminate the war- minded theme at the heart of the Dropkick Murphys' latest slab of Oi- infested, Irish- tempered mayhem.

Why war? Because, metaphorically speaking, it so effectively represents the essence of the band. "Rally together," the first words insist. It's hard to escape the unifying energy the Dropkick Murphys consistently send. The charms of the catchy sing- along choruses are enough to compel the most reticent of fans to break out in passionate accompaniment. "Blood and Whiskey" may be about one man, but it's that man's "brave and daring brutal soul" that is the cause for celebration. "Pipebomb on Lansdowne" may be tongue- in- cheek, but it reveals an enemy- in this case, trendy club- hoppers whose vain pursuits rarely stem beyond vinyl pants and designer drugs.

The cause for war is clear: there must be a united front against those who block the path of the common man. Nowhere is this spirit as effectively captured as it is in "10 Years of Service," a tale of woe told by union workers who struggle for a standard of living that "doesn't exist in 1999." The feeling is one of bitterness, but not without hope. New singer Al Barr uses his raspy delivery to poignantly render the anguish of these undervalued workers.

Traditional instruments such as bagpipes and fiddle add a unique flavor to the band's sound while also denoting a sense of loyalty and respect towards the Irish people. The production offered by Rancid's Lars Frederiksen guarantees the Murphys' call to arms will be heard in the best of capacities: the sound is clear and pronounced, and impressively captures the communal spirit of all the band's work. On The Gang's All Here, the Dropkick Murphys win another battle for themselves and seem promisingly poised for any struggles the future may bring.

-Kevin Ruggeri

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RATING KEY
10.0: Indispensable, classic
9.5-9.9: Spectacular
9.0-9.4: Amazing
8.5-8.9: Exceptional; will likely rank among writer's top ten albums of the year
8.0-8.4: Very good
7.5-7.9: Above average; enjoyable
7.0-7.4: Not brilliant, but nice enough
6.0-6.9: Has its moments, but isn't strong
5.0-5.9: Mediocre; not good, but not awful
4.0-4.9: Just below average; bad outweighs good by just a little bit
3.0-3.9: Definitely below average, but a few redeeming qualities
2.0-2.9: Heard worse, but still pretty bad
1.0-1.9: Awful; not a single pleasant track
0.0-0.9: Breaks new ground for terrible
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