Album Review
Union 13
Label: Epitaph
Reviewed by Stephen Rafael
Is punk rock more than having blue hair and a pierced nose? Does punk rock actually mean something to you? If it does, then you are not alone. Enter Union 13... First off, the members of Union 13 are from East Los Angeles, and proud of it. East LA weaves its way through Union 13's music the same way Long Beach County and South Central LA set the stage for rap stars Dr. Dre and Ice Cube. Like Straight Outta Compton, Union 13's Youth, Betrayal and the Awakening is a serious album, full of revolution songs and cries for change in society. Tracks on the album have titles such as "The Game," "Beyond the System," and "A Short Supply of the Truth." Furthermore, there is no place for cute (white) pop punks like Green Day and Blink-182 in the world of Union 13. (This is not to say the members of Union 13 do not have a soft side, though. "For Someone" and "To Understand" are tender and truly heartfelt love songs.) Union 13 may (slightly) resemble Rage Against The Machine, but these kids are pure punks through and through, not one-dimensional (millionaire) metal funksters. (In other words, no one in Union 13 has a fat contract with Sony Records or a Harvard education to fall back on.) True to its roots, Youth, Betrayal and the Awakening -- Union 13's third album on (independent label) Epitaph -- is sung in both English and Spanish. Edward Escoto valiantly shouts almost all of the Spanish parts, while Jose Mercado whines his way through most of the English verses. Together, the contrasting duo is very effective. Can punk rock really change the world? Union 13 certainly believes it can with Youth, Betrayal, and the Awakening. (The album cover shows pictures of Pope John Paul II and sheets of American dollar bills. These images are surrounded by words like "liar," "thief," and "devil.")

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