Record Review: The Proletariat; “The Murder Of Alton Sterling”


I was a huge fan of the Proletariat back in the early 80’s. While they were part of the Boston area punk and hardcore scene, they always stood out to me. A mix of rage, talent, intellect and politically charged lyrics, the band sounded different from every other band. A unique blend of hard and melodic, coupled with songs that actually meant something. They quickly became one of my favorite bands.

I was lucky enough to see the Proletariat play their first show in 30 years in October 2016 and it solidified my view that these guys are as talented as I remembered and a band that should have been a much bigger deal in the music scene than they actually turned out to be at the time, other than to those of us in the know.

I’ve been anxiously awaiting their latest music to be released and it did not disappoint.
The newest release, “The Murder Of Alton Sterling” , sounds like the Proletariat, but with a new maturity and depth of character that only comes from knowing yourselves as musicians and human beings and taking that into the art you create. Anyone that knows the band will immediately recognize singer Rick Brown ,  his vocals full of emotion and rage . Rick has always had the ability to express emotion through his vocalizations. In the punk and alternative scene, this is a rare gift. You can’t listen to a Proletariat song without feeling. This is even more pronounced with these two new songs.
The subject matter on this latest release is not frivolous but deep and dark and thought provoking. “The Murder of Alton Sterling” is about a 37 year-old unarmed black man killed by police in Baton Rouge in July of 2016. The song is full of rage and messages of social and racial injustice and police brutality. “Push Back” the second song released , is just as political, with calls for not turning the other cheek and fighting against the madness we are facing in this world today.
As far as the talent in this band, The musicianship is more solid than I’ve ever heard then. Thomas McKnight and Peter Belivacqua are an amazingly cohesive unit, playing together without missing a note and with such ease that it seems almost impossible. Guitarist Don Sanders adds another layer of originality to this group, playing a unique blend of hard and melodic.
The Proletariat have an entire album they are getting ready to release ( Produced by Lou Giordano) and will continue to tour around the country. In a time when an awful lot of bands from the 80’s are making “comebacks”, the sheer number of old bands and new releases can cause us to miss the great new music that’s still to be found from a precious few of these bands. The Proletariat are among those ones you just have to take another listen to.