“Modern Life is War is an active band again.” A couple of weeks ago, the announcement of Marshalltown’s finest return to business after six years of hiatus made the Internet got super excited. Despite all the enthusiasm that this kind of announcement usually generates, it is always legitimate to question the significance of a reunion. After a dazzling career between 2002 and 2008, with the release of major albums such as My Love My Way or Witness, and despite some criticism around Midnight in America, their last full-length, Modern Life is War had gone in 2008 with the status of an iconic band. Today, although the hardcore scene has exponentially been evolving, it is impossible to deny the huge impact that MLIW left on many melodic hardcore bands in terms of sound and influence. Their return to the spotlight with Fever Hunting will quickly remind us some good memories and ravish fans of the Iowa outfit.
Produced by the omnipresent Kurt Ballou, Fever Hunting is an album that from the first to the last track generates many feelings; somewhere between happiness, nostalgia, excitement but also slight disappointment at times. Certain euphoria at first. It is just so unexpected and delightful to hear new material from a band you thought were gone forever. Fever Hunting is sealed with the same formula that made this band so significant: this urgency and energy, the characteristic raw vocals by Jeffrey Eaton, these powerful riffs and melancholic guitars, and the touching and human lyrics. These have always been MLIW trademarks and in a certain way, we’re just glad nothing has changed.
If MLIW’s music appears to be more familiar than ever, the first listening (and the first listening only) suggests a certain lack of innovation. Modern Life is War has finally decided to take up arms and return with the sound that imposed them (Health, Wealth and Peace, Media Cunt) but they didn’t try to apply drastic changes or musical revolutions to their tunes. It can either be a good or a bad thing. Fever Hunting sounds like it came out a few years ago, as if the band had never left the stage.
Considering the fact that there’s no real sound reinventions or experimentations, constant rotations of Fever Hunting undoubtedly allows us to hear that their great musicianship isn’t gone. The band proved they did not came back to release vulgar B-sides of their previous albums even if they didn’t try to bring something really renewing. Song structures are very different, sometimes confusing (Blind are Breeding, Currency) but the brand remains the same. Fast, efficient, unpretentious and well played. Fever Hunting is a true punk album. With these eleven tracks, the band draws on the best of his discography to build a solid album that holds up pretty good.
In the end, the pleasure of hearing new material surpasses the lack of surprises on this album. By going a bit further and perfecting their own sound, MLIW convinced us that their return is nothing else than triumphant. The guys remained the same and decided they still got things to achieve (“I believe I am here to create” – Find a way). It’s just good old Modern Life Is War after all (Chasing My Tail, Brothers In Arms Forever, Cracked Sidewalk Surfer).
We don’t know yet what the future of Modern Life Is War will hold. Is Fever Hunting a simple but efficient call to order or is it the beginning of a second life for this legendary band? It might not be their best material but Fever Hunting remains a great achievement. One thing for sure, the reunion set they delivered a few days ago at This is Hardcore Fest gives goosebumps from the first seconds. Fever Hunting will be released by Deathwish Inc. on September 9 and is now streaming on Pitchfork.
“We always said we’d be brothers in arms forever. All things have changed but we’re brothers in arms forever.”
Track list - Fever Hunting:
1. Old Fears, New Frontiers
2. Health, Wealth, and Peace
3. Chasing My Tail
4. Media Cunt
5. Blind Are Breeding
6. Fever Hunting
7. Dark Water
8. Brothers In Arms Forever
10. Cracked Sidewalk Surfer
11. Find A Way
Written by Alex Tabankia