S.N.A.F.U. is an acronym and a defined phrase, meaning a confused or chaotic state, and also “Situation Normal All Fucked Up.” Perhaps this was to separate themselves from other bands with the same name throughout history (I found at least three), or perhaps it was simply a silly way of defining themselves in an absurd world. Either way, confused and fucked up like normal is a great way to put it, because these punks have no hopes of doing anything other than playing the loudest and heaviest music imaginable. How would you do such a thing? Well, mixing the best aspects of punk and metal is a great way to start.
We live in tumultuous times, and coming from Detroit, S.N.A.F.U. sees that more than many in a country which has yet to see how bad things are going to get. With a very graphic cover illustration of a man getting shot through the face by a cop in riot gear, Present Day Plague is not a play-it-safe kind of album. The album is bent on pure destruction, and it does it well with a frustration and rage that is completely hopeless but empowering at the same time.
Things begin with sound clips and chaotic noise, creating the atmosphere for the second track which quickly turns to a drum beat and vocals that are undeniably punk in approach, while the thrash edge in the music comes through as a solo, elaborating on the band’s roots while simultaneously chanted hardcore vocals insist you sing along. The next track comes from the grindcore camp with elements of death metal, showing how diverse the influences can get.
The hardcore chants give a classic-sounding edge to the music, while their impressive thrash attack adds the fury needed to perfectly blend these worlds. Present Day Plague is a true and honest love for these genres, and while their subtle death metal style is present the least, it adds an entirely elevated level of intensity to the music when it is present (especially regarding vocals). Featuring guest appearances from the Suicide Machines‘ Jason Navarro and Shawn Knight from Child Bite, Present Day Plague is firmly rooted in the Detroit hardcore scene.
S.N.A.F.U. manages to mix so many great elements together here on Present Day Plague that it is hard to pinpoint whom their target audience is. Discharge, Agnostic Front, and Testament fans will be more than satisfied with the resulting album, and it does not come off like it’s trying to be anything other than a sincere and exceptional effort. The drums are simple and to the point, while the vocals follow a half-sung and half-screamed hybrid that punk is known for: angry and with a message to get across. One section will feature an intense riff that is worthy of the word “epic,” and another will implode into a spastic frenzy that is guaranteed to suck anyone into the pit. Black Breath is the only band I have come across that has done something similar, but Present Day Plague has an authenticity about it that is aided by classic riffs, chants, and vocal lines that no other young project within the hardcore scene can likely touch.
Sure, after a while, the excitement wears off, which is always how I feel about music like this, and I’m positive that I’m not alone in that. It is an adrenaline blast and is easy to lose interest in quickly, but that initial high—as we all know—is what it is all about. S.N.A.F.U. connects worlds of music with quality like few ever have; this is an accomplishment rarely achieved, perhaps best done by no other than Motörhead, and I greatly appreciate it. While we wait for the band’s next album, I’ll be crossing my fingers for them to make it out to the Pacific Northwest so hipsters can stand around with their hands firmly placed in their pockets, eager to buy whatever vinyl is available.
01) Subhuman Scum
02) Her Dark Past
03) Death Trip
04) A Trade to Abduct
05) Snakes Eating Snakes
06) Eternal Nocturnal (Feat. Jason Navarro)
07) Great Deceiver
08) Body of Suffering
09) Digital Prison
11) The Human Infestation (Feat. Shawn Knight)
12) Dead Before Dawn
13) One from None
14) Better Off
15) Prison Warders
16) Memphis LSD
17) Try Hard
18) Hands that Feeds
19) Millions of Useless Eaters