Personnel: Guy Carmel, Ishay Berger (vocals, guitar); Yotam Ben Horin (vocals); Gideon Berger (drums); Bill Stevenson (background vocals).
Recording information: The Blasting Room, Ft. Collins, CO (12/2015).
Plenty of punk rock bands sing about the chaos of the world around them, but Useless ID hail from Haifa, Israel, so their statements along these lines tend to carry a bit more weight. The band's music is heavily influenced by SoCal pop-punk -- you likely wouldn't guess they weren't American on first listen -- but on their eighth album, 2016's State Is Burning, Useless ID have strapped in and made a tougher and more opinionated record than they've delivered in the past. "Land of Idiocracy," "How to Dismantle an Atom Bomb," "45 Seconds," and the title track deliver political and social commentary with a genuine urgency, and vocalist/bassist Yotam Ben-Horin fires off his lyrics with a fierce passion that makes it clear he takes his messages seriously. Not everything on State Is Burning deals with big themes. "Lonely Man" tells the tale of a guy who is either a sensitive soul or a pretentious hipster, "Night Shift" is the set's token love song, and "We Don't Want the Airwaves" is a celebration of the Ramones that even name-checks lesser albums such as Acid Eaters, Halfway to Sanity, and Animal Boy. The band's attack is polished to a high gloss, but the guitars (by Ishay Berger and Guy Carmel) still chug with serious muscle, and the rhythm section of Ben-Horin and drummer Gideon Berger delivers a hard and unrelenting snap. After more than 20 years as Israel's highest-profile punk band (at least on the international scene), Useless ID are still leaning to the accessible side of punk, but they haven't lost the ability to bear down and hit hard when they want to. State Is Burning is proof of that. ~ Mark Deming