It is not often you find a common ground between The Menzingers and German industrial metal pioneers Rammstein. However, the pair now echo the sentiments of struggling to love their homeland.

The Pennsylvania punks often paint an idealistic portrait of the Americana they know, full of late-night diners, young love at basement shows and long road trips through the great plains of the US. However, the political turmoil the States is in with a pseduo-fascist in the White House and far-right nationalists killing protestors, Greg Barnett’s dulcet, optimistic tones come with a caveat of foreboding.

Their latest single ‘America (You’re Freaking Me Out)’ from the upcoming album, ‘Hello Exile’, sees Barnett share the same viewpoint of Rammstein’s Till Landemann. While Landemann proclaimed “Deutschland mein herz in flammen will dich lieben und verdammen” (Germany, my heart’s in flames, want to love you, want to damn you), in his inner struggle to find sense of his country’s decisions, Barnett too, opens up on his horror of what happens in 2019’s version of the US.

The kitsch nature of Barnett’s America may have been lost and after saying farewell to their twenties in 2017’s ‘After The Party’, The Menzingers may be using ‘Hello Exile’ to say goodbye to the America they thought they knew.  

For the best part of three years there has been a lingering sense of doubt, manifesting in a sensation akin to an itch you just can’t quite scratch, as to the future of Alkaline Trio. Would Matt Skiba taking up the reins in Tom DeLonge-less Blink 182 spell the end for Chicago’s favourite Satanic sons?

The release of ‘Blackbird’ – a precursor to their to ninth studio album ‘Is This Thing Cursed?’ – has removed the boot from the neck of doubt. This is vintage Alkaline Trio and we’re more than happy to drink up the Kool Aid that messrs Skiba, Andriano and Grant are serving up. ‘Blackbird’ has all the hallmarks of mid-2000s Trio with jangling, haunting, staccato riffs, a tale of a dark force bringing death from above wrapped in the guise of a female protagonist and a chilling, instant-classic chorus.

It is a portrait of the world and the future we face that only Alkaline Trio could paint. Even a heavy involvement with Blink 182 could not dull the cynicism and twisted poetry that could only flow from the pen of Matt Skiba. What it also does, is lay down the foundations for an album that teases an Alkaline Trio returning to their absolute best. It is good to have them back.