Review: Militarie Gun’s ‘Life Under The Gun’

The LA-based band's debut album sets a new standard for melodic post-hardcore

There’s a sense of urgency about Militarie Gun. The LA-based post-hardcore band are on a mission and they’re not messing around.

“I’ve waited long enough”, singer Ian Shelton declares on the first line of ‘Do It Faster’, the opening track on the Gun’s debut album ‘Life Under The Gun’, out Friday 23 June on Loma Vista. The track serves as a statement of purpose for the formidable drive of Shelton and the band he formed in 2020.

Together they’ve already released a stellar set of debut EPs. Collected and expanded last year as ‘All Roads Lead To The Gun’, that first batch of tunes mainly saw them bulldoze their way through to create magic seemingly out of sheer will alone.

But their first proper long-player is a different beast. Still recognisably the work of a band grounded in Black Flag and Fugazi, the 12 tracks on ‘Life Under The Gun’ ramp up the melodies that ‘All Roads…’ buried, and some – though by no means all – of Shelton’s rasp is smoothed out. It’s a subtle polish though, and one augmented with the addition of melodies and textures drawn from 90s alt rock and even 00s indie.

As well as setting out their stall, ‘Do It Faster’ offers the clearest link to their formative work, punctuating key lyrics with Shelton’s characteristic vowel-laden bark. The song sets out the stall for an evolving Militarie Gun – now a band comfortable enough with pushing genre boundaries to slip in things like a brief flash of Byrdsian guitar where needed.

And that’s the contradiction of Militarie Gun. They’re a band that comfortably sits on the line-up for Manchester’s Outbreak Fest, alongside the likes of Converge and Bane, but whose new set of songs can channel Interpol-like guitar figures (‘Will Logic’) and the sort of delicate organ-led opening the Flaming Lips might use (‘See You Around’).

There’s also space on ‘Life Under The Gun’ for songs that hew closer to hardcore, such as its middle pair of ‘Think Less’ and ‘Return Policy’, at least until the latter undercuts its slowed down heaviness with some indie melody and quite lovely, if fleeting, backing vocal ‘oohs’.

Meanwhile, ‘Very High’ combines both sides of Militarie Gun’s character, welding insistent melodic hooks to an accessible mid-paced punk rocker as it tackles the desire to escape the embarrassment of day-to-day life and the narrator wrestles with something no one else sees.

Shelton’s own backstory, growing up in a household with family members struggling with addiction, adds further weight whenever the album touches on themes of trust, betrayal and loss. As the relatively plaintive ‘My Friends Are Having A Hard Time’ puts it: ‘How long before it fucks up and fails’?

The singer, whose other bands include the punishingly relentless Regional Justice Center, is convinced Militarie Gun has always been a “melody-forward band”. Now it sounds like he’s right. Alongside guitarists Nick Cogan and William Acuña, drummer Vince Nguyen and bassist Max Epstein, he and Militarie Gun have created a melodic post-hardcore masterpiece.

‘Life Under The Gun’ is out Today (Friday 23 June) on Looma Vista

  1. Do It Faster
  2. Very High
  3. Will Logic
  4. My Friends Are Having A Hard Time
  5. Think Less
  6. Return Policy
  7. Seizure of Assets
  8. Never Fucked Up Once
  9. Big Disappointment
  10. Sway Too
  11. See You Around
  12. Life Under The Gun
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