What do you get when you mix the political leanings and intelligence of Bad Religion with the super-dramatic vocals of System of a Down, and swaddle it with the vestments of Pennywise and Strike Anywhere? Marathon, of course – their first track “Painting By Numbers” immediately attacks the listener, the government, and anyone else that gets too close. Starting out their second track “I Don’t Have A Dancing Problem” with the line “fuck this, I’m going dancing”, Marathon shows the complete life of an activist instead of just the minor snippet that most individuals get from the battle for Seattle videos. Here is a narrator that goes dancing to break the pain and hurt of a government that is consolidating power, all done with a slightly humorous twist (tying dancing to addictions like drinking). Coming through on a majority of their tracks are the incredible things that Marathon can do with their instruments; a track like “Some Lovely Parting Gifts” has the guitar virtuosity of a band like Welt but with the malleability of a Steve Vai to really refresh the track’s sound continually.
The guitars are not the only section of the band that possesses a talent far above the average punk band; Jeff’s bass really becomes a major factor in the creation of a specific mood during a number of tracks on this disc, especially present on “Don’t Ask If This Is About You.” Each track maintains a pop sound to it that really belies any message that Marathon could come up with; I feel that this hiding of a message behind such a radio-friendly sound is probably the best way to really get that message out, as more people will listen to Marathon than would ever listen to a crust band like Caustic Christ. “Names Have Been Changed” really takes a nod from Jeff Ott’s solo work, Operation: Cliff Clavin (especially the Who Needs Electricity? Album), and Against Me! – lead vocalist Aaron really takes on Jeff’s Fifteen-era sound during the track. Marathon is a band that works on so many levels and will be liked by so many different groups of people – individuals will take from the band’s oft-political messages, yet others will like their high-energy punk sound, and yet others will dig their impressive musicianship. Listen to this album and figure out why you like Marathon – Suburban Home has signed a winner, and they were able to see all of the band’s strong points.
Top Tracks: Names Have Been Changed, I Don’t Have A Dancing Problem
Marathon – S/T / 2005 Reignition / 13 Tracks / http://www.marathonarmy.org / http://www.reigniton.com / Reviewed 29 May 2005