Article By: Pat ‘Riot’ Whitaker ‡ Edited By: Leanne Ridgeway
Chicago’s RACETRAITOR was one of the more incendiary, politically charged, and controversial music entities that arose to some prominence in the mid-Nineties.
With their thought-provoking name, social stances, and inflammatory lyrical themes for “aggressively challenging audiences to confront systematic racism and exploitative systems”, the SXE (Straight Edge) hardcore punk heavyweights did indeed challenge musical audiences, to say the least.
But before all of that, in an instance of truly ironic proportions, RACETRAITOR were featured on the covers of both the Maximum Rock N’ Roll and Heartattack fanzines before they’d ever released a note of music.
The classic era of RACETRAITOR consisted of vocalist Mani Mostofi, drummer Andy Hurley, guitarists Dan Binaei and Eric Bartholomae, and bassist R. Brent Decker. Other musicians would come and go, or contribute their skills at different times or when needed, including Pete Wentz (Fall Out Boy), Karl Hlavinka, and Rich Miles.
The band’s brief, but unquestionably iconoclastic, original tenure culminated in the band’s sole full-length album offering, 1998’s ‘Burn The Idol Of The White Messiah‘ (Uprising Records). Its contents were decimating salvos of audible power-violence, a most abrasive discharge of metallic aggression riddled with elements of death metal and grindcore.
1999 would see RACETRAITOR present alongside the Indianapolis band Burn It Down on the Trustkill Records-issued split EP, ‘Make Them Talk‘. At the time of these releases, the band’s live musical performances were chaotic and intentionally confrontational. Undeniably, in the early days of RACETRAITOR, their live actions were designed to shock and fuel issue-based discussions… by force if necessary.
Eventually, RACETRAITOR would disband with members going on to undertake other musical ventures, in a list of acts ranging from Sect, Earth Crisis, Burning Empires, Enemy, Project Rocket, Arma Angelus, and several others, including the aforementioned Fall Out Boy.
Spurred by the increasing political discord and fertile social chaos in recent years, RACETRAITOR – Mostofi, Hurley, Binaei, Bartholomae, and Decker – reformed in 2016. They recorded a new song, “By The Time I Get To Pennsylvania”, with a new recording of an early demo, “Damaged”, as its B-side, then released both online and as a Flexi-disc through Organized Crime Records.
Last year, another EP for Organized Crime Records, ‘Invisible Battles Against Invisible Fortresses’, followed. Simultaneously, as these releases worked to re-establish the volatile presence and relevance of RACETRAITOR within the contemporary age of unified underground music and social awareness, the band has also undertaken routine live excursions.
This week brought a new lyric video unveiling from RACETRAITOR, for the track “The Cult Of Eschatology“. It is the second single to surface from ‘2042‘, the band’s first full-length recording since 1998’s ‘Burn The Idol Of The White Messiah’. It is streaming below, along with the recently delivered official video for the first single, “BLK XMAS“.
Bassist R. Brent Decker offered the following insight to the track saying:
“With ‘[The] Cult Of Eschatology’ we wanted to address the racist way the US talks about the high levels of violence in cities like Chicago. The entire framing of the issue and the policies that are adopted serve white supremacy. Words like ‘criminal,’ ‘offender,’ and ‘victim’ are all euphemisms to get politicians elected and shovel more money to a ‘prison and policing industrial complex’.
Nothing is really about solutions, violence reduction, or real people. The criminal justice system we have is just rooted in the ideologies of punishment which destroys countless lives, decimates communities, and strengthens corporate interests. Living and working in Chicago, this is all stuff we have seen first hand and it needs to be abolished.”