18 years later, we're still living in Dar Al-Harb.
It's been a very long time since Racetraitor first changed the way I heard and thought about music. They weren't the only band that impacted me, but they were profound for having a take that was particularly unique in the content and extent of their convictions.
A lot of bands in the 1990s were a bit extreme and I could spend thousands of words rehashing those days. Instead, it's important to not think about Racetraitor in the context of the conditions that birthed them, but the conditions surrounding their rebirth.
We live in an arguably more violent and simultaneously more repressed society. A place where the ugly racism we thought had been banished to the shadows forever has returned to the light of day. This is a time where we must balance the understanding of a foreign world with the refugees that world has pushed to our doorstep.
Racetraitor is back and tapping into something that resonates even more than it did in the last century as it feels like we are reaching a social critical mass. Invisible Battles Against Invisible Fortresses is the violent result of that release.
This EP is perfectly heavy and particularly short. Racetraitor has a point to make and they don't waste frills on it. The opener, "Billions," feels like a slow build to the next four songs that are over before you realize it.
The message on this new Racetraitor material is clear:
"scared preachers be quiet
scared leaders be quiet*
the wretched (will)
chant down babylon"
Those words to close the second track, "Vengeance," tell you what you need to know.
Two of the five tracks clock in around 30 seconds long and the other songs all stay under three minutes a piece so you'll be prone to listen to this about 50 times to really let it all soak in. Good news is that you'll want to soak this in and really take to heart what Racetraitor is saying.
My favorite track is, perhaps ironically, "Dar Al-Salam." I say that because my favorite track off their 1999 full-length, Burn the Idol of the White Messiah, was "Dar Al-Harb." Dar Al-Harb is the Islamic tenet for the "house of war" or "territory of chaos" that is any region or established state where Islam is not the official, enforced religion. Dar Al-Salam is the "house of peace," or name for regions or nation-states that observe Islam and their interpretation of God. (NOTE: As a non-Muslim, I may have misunderstand or misrepresented information here. This is my understanding based on the limited research I have conducted in the past and have again revisited as a refresher for writing about this EP. Feel free to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you wish to offer an alternative explanation.)
The lyrics of "Dar Al-Salam" paint a picture that there is not peace, because of interference and the war hungry. I would interpret this to be the song form of the understand that Dar Al-Harb creates this chaos in the territory of Dar Al-Salam where it otherwise would not be. The not-so-subtle reference to the Shock & Awe campaign of the American-led coalition in the Middle East is very pointed and leads to the very clear understand of what is meant by Dar Al-Harb. And by using the terminology for Dar Al-Salam, but point out the destruction created there by an outside force, the song cleverly actually portrays the damages of Dar Al-Harb.
And I got all of this out of a two-minute-and-fourty-four-second song. Racetraitor is great. Organized Crime Records is great. I'm glad I had a chance to revisit Racetraitor in a new light and hope you have the same opportunity.
by Daniel Coughlin