In the midst of a global pandemic and social unrest going on in the United States, Fear No Empire were inspired to form to give another voice to the protests and amplify their message through their music. The band is comprised of vocalist Ali Tabatabaee (Zebrahead), bassist Ben Ozz (Zebrahead), guitarist Dan Palmer (Zebrahead, Death By Stereo), and drummer Mike Cambra (The Adolescents, Death by Stereo and Common War). When I last spoke with Ali about this new project, his passion for providing a call to action for others to fight back was apparent. The topics covered on their self-titled EP are extremely topical and relevant. The COVID-19 pandemic and the lack of action from leadership, kids in cages, and discrimination across the board forced the hand of these musicians to do their part to spread awareness and provide a musical outlet for their politically-charged attack.
The record blasts off on the right foot with a siren-sounding guitar on “Revolt,” over a speedy beat by drummer Mike Cambra and vocalist Tabatabee has no problem keeping up with the frenetic pace set by his bandmates. The Rage Against the Machine sounding track is incredibly powerful, and features a thought provoking chorus of, “Revolt, find the kids in cages / Our bloodline’s the same, we’re not contagious / Revolt, burn the pages / Fight the system, the battle rages / Revolt.” The way that Fear No Empire is able to hone in on their message of inspiring change is incredibly moving and provides the perfect soundtrack for the protests on-going in the US.
”Amplifier” starts off with a nice riff from Palmer that would be ripped right out of the wheelhouse of Tom Morello, while Tabatabee channels his inner Zack de la Rocha with a similar vocal delivery and cadence. The track is based around the premise of rallying the masses of people to realize that they are ones with power, not the ones sitting in their ivory towers. “Destroyer” takes direct aim at the leader of the US with a blistering assessment on the job that he’s doing as he continuously uses racist language, and xenophobia to appeal to his base.
Other tracks on the EP such as “Super Spreader” features some recorded audio of people comparing the wearing of a protective mask to an oppression of their first amendment rights. Ali Tabatabee has no time for this narrative and doesn’t mince words in his vocals as he shouts, “Just wear a fucking mask, you dumb fuck!”
The album closer, “On Fire America” is a great mix of classic Rage Against the Machine with some modern hip-hop thematic elements to further extenuate the importance of resisting the status quo. Fear No Empire never go off of their message, and beat the leaders at their own game by amplifying their agenda for the common American. Overall, this is a great artistic statement from veteran musicians who know their strengths as artists and hone in on them to deliver a powerful statement of inspiring change.