The music of Downset, like that of fellow hardcore rap-metallers Rage Against The Machine and Biohazard, is plagued by a fundamental contradiction: Sure, the music appeals to 15-year-old hammerheads, the types who get off on Biohazard's chant of "Fuck the rules!" (Take your curfew and ram it, mom and dad!) But at the same time, all three bands want to free Mumia Abu-Jamal, stop oppression in Burma and Tibet, and save myriad freedom fighters in countries most Rage Against the Machine fans couldn't locate in a 10th-grade geography test. Yet these bands plod away, and Downset's new album shows that the group hasn't made the slightest stride toward updating the bludgeoning chant-alongs that Rage made famous three years ago. Empower! Fight! Fuck authority! Yaaaargh! Does Downset speak a dead language? Until it finds a new twist on its tired old formula, it probably does.

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