Chicago political hardcore vets Racetraitor are back with Creation and the Timeless Order of Things, one of the most tremendous albums of their career. It's one of their heaviest, most metallic records, and each song is about a different societal struggle in different locations around the world--the band calls it "a sorta geographic autobiography of Racetraitor."
It also features guest vocals from Dennis Lyxzen (Refused), Tim Kinsella (Joan of Arc, Cap’n Jazz), Stan Liszewaki (Terminal Nation), Sanket Lama (Chepang), and Patrick Hassan (xRepentancex), and other musicians help add to the story, like Persian classical musician Fared Shafinury.
For much more on this very dense album, vocalist Mani Mostofi and bassist R. Brent Decker have given us an in-depth breakdown of every song. Read on for what they had to say...
When I was a kid my family lived in Tehran for about a year. I was around four years old and that was the time of the 1979 Iranian Revolution. And despite being too young, I have vivid memories of the demonstrations, with streets full of people clad all in black. I remember the energy and the enthusiasm. Fast forward years later and the revolution didn't hold up to its promises and Shah was gone but we have seen several more decades of authoritarianism. Every Iranian family has faced some type of intergenerational and the feeling can be overwhelming. So “Eid” the personal stories, mine, Dan’s and others, of what happens when a revolution aiming for freedom and equality is stolen.
What rounded out the experience socially was pulling in collaborations with Persian classical musician Fared Shafinury and others to add traditional and symphonic elements. We also asked Patrick Hassan, one of the few Iranian operating in the genre, to join to lend some vocals.
As we were mixing the song last year, Iran again broke into nationwide anti-government protests sparked after the death of a young Kurdish woman, Jina Masha Amina, while in custody of Iran's police for supposedly wearing her mandatory hijab “improperly.” Women, ethnic minorities, students, workers, and others in Iran have never stopped resisting since 1979 and were again at the forefront of this recent protest movement, dubbed the Women, Life, Freedom movement after a famous Kurdish leftist political slogan. So while this song deals with memory it really is also about the present. – Mani
I think this turned out to be one of the most frantic and crushing songs on the record. We entered the writing process saying the fast parts need to be faster and the heavy parts heavier and "Chamelecón" accomplishes that. And Hera’s guttural vocals really elevated the choruses. The music ended up really lined up with the lyrical theme.
I have been working with community-based public health organizations in cities and villages across Central America for years. One of those places is Chamelecón, a town just outside of San Pedro Sula, Honduras. Chamelecón is a place on the outskirts, never really talked about in the public consciousness but for many years Chamelecón has been one of the most violent places on Earth. And when you are there you see how the violence grew out of a history of colonization, multinational corporations installed governments, the dirty wars, the recent US-Backed coup, government endorsed drug trade, ‘tax-incentive’ zones, police corruption, and repatriation of high numbers of deportees from the US. You hear locals tell of the unimaginable toll of historic and current violence has had on their community. One of the men, who was involved in the violence, told me that at night he hears demons dancing on his roof. You can’t really walk away from Chamelecón. - Brent
Cave of the Patriarchs
This one of the first tracks that really started coming to life for me. And the start and stop, fast and slow, just gave it such a moody feel. The song became about my time in Hebron, Palestine in the West Bank. I had never been to a place more surreal. It felt more like a dystopian future sci-fi movie. The historic city center was cleared out for a bunch of fascist settlers. It was a ghost town. There were barbed wire fences all over. Sniper towers wherever you looked, today the guns are even AI operated. Graffiti on the walls said things like “Send the Arabs to the ovens”. In the middle of town, outside a holy site called the Cave of the Patriarchs, I was waiting at a checkpoint with a bunch of Palestinian guys in their early 20s. We had a sniper rifle trained on us so I was freaked. In the middle of all this madness these guys just started talking to me about their cousins in Chicago and whether I prefer Jay Z to Ludacris. I was taken by how much these guys just wanted a normal life. Boring and normal. It crucially recalibrated what I thought of liberation and racialism. The “ask” became so much simpler and universal. Now there is a military siege on Gaza and 11,000 plus dead that my tax dollars paid for, I feel obligated to advocate for that rightful normality. - Mani
I have traveled to Turkey a number of times to interview refugees. People are fleeing all sorts of violence and discrimination and they take a great leap leaving their faith in their homes and trusting that humanity will want to shelter them. And we see how gross the work reaction to the refugee and migrant crisis has been. But to me migration for a better life is about the deepest longing lasting tradition and most natural of humanity. Before borders, before nation states we were migrants and we defy borders and nation states to remain migrants. And that is what I was trying to speak to in the song and the call and response in the vocals was supposed to sorta invoke waves of people moving through the music. -Mani
The lyrics are a very formal land acknowledgment of Chicago and Lake Michigan shore to its north, where most of the band members, past and present, grew up. Dan, Brent, and I grew up in the same suburb and in junior high we got a history lesson of that suburb. It was this insanely white washed disney story about how a Potowatami chief’s daughter married a French explorer, and how he founded our village. This, considered one of the best public schools in the country, basically fed us propaganda. The education system has always been a tool of colonial indoctrination and land acknowledgment, one of the most basic tools to fighting that indoctrination. – Mani
This song is about a bombing that took place in Jos in northern Nigeria and the aftermath. When I was there two days later you could still see where the bomb went off in the market with burned out stalls and blood stains on the street. The context of the song is really about the lasting effects of British colonialism and how it has its hands in most of the wars, acts of genocide, and oppressive states across the world today. -Brent
I have known Dennis [Lyxzén, of Refused] for years and originally we had slotted him to do vocals on another song. But when "Pastoral Monolith" came together with the cellos, space black metal part, and sluggy doom I just thought Dennis would be a better fit for the weirdness of the song. When his vocals came on, I just laughed in amazement. I have no idea how he took something so chaotic and disjointed and made it so catchy. -Mani
Black Creek/Red River
The song features a different set of lyrics about a different place. The first part of the song was written by Dan about, part of his family who are from Hazzard County, Kentucky, and the omnipresent role of coal mining in all aspects of their lives, their culture, and ultimately their belief systems. The idea of naming the band Racetraitor was Dan's; it came partly because of how this part of his family saw his mother, who married and had a child with someone from Iran.
The second part of the song is about a vision a friend retold from her deathbed about having seen the devil as a child, who she said was a white man with gold teeth, right before a catastrophic flood took place in Tarija, Bolivia.
We were very stoked to have Tim Kinsella contribute vocals to the song, we are long time friends and full fans of every musical project he has been involved in. Racetraitor’s first show was also Joan of Arc’s first show at Chicago’s “Autonomous-Zone.” People always remark on how that bill made no sense but to us it made perfect sense and still does -Brent
My parents belonged to this liberation-theology influenced church when I was growing up in the '80s and '90s which was deeply involved in the solidarity movements in Central America. I remember when I was really young, the church had this major standoff with the local police trying to arrest church members from El Salvador who had fled the US backed civil war because they entered the country “illegally.” It was the first time I really witnessed the brutality of the police and the nature of white supremacist system they serve.
The song Santa Apolonia is about the US-backed genocide that took place in Guatemala from 1950s through the 1990s. I have spent a lot of time in the town of Santa Apolonia which is in the highlands of Guatemala because of the involvement in the solidarity work of my parents. It has completely informed my worldview and understanding of politics, economics, and history. To this day the trauma of the genocide manifests itself in my friends lives, their relationships, and the dire economic conditions which are daily realities.
When we were writing this song, it was around the time that the first big “caravans” were coming from Central America of families fleeing the poverty and violence that plagues everyday life for many in the region. Somehow absent from the conversations has been the direct and primary role the US has played in genocides, civil wars, and economic systems in Central America which has forced families to flee in the first place. - Brent
For this song and "Subordinate Terror," Andy intentionally focused the drums onto the toms, which really gave the songs a pummeling feeling. Nile is also more than a subtle influence melodically. "Sarcophagus" is about the history of false allegations of violence and sexual violence lodged against Black men in the US. The lyrics deal specifically with an incident in Chicago that happened to my close friend and how quickly the the press and the courts, as systems of white power, were so eager to take action. -Brent
I travel to London all the time and I really do love it. It comes off as such a great multicultural city and I think Londoners see themselves that way. But the whole place is built on empire and that should never be forgotten. Plain and simple fuck the British Empire! In that spirit we brought Stan [Liszewski] on the song. It just feels like Terminal Nation is the band most willing to just say fuck you straight to the face of power. -Mani
Obviously this song is a departure for us, being sorta like a melodic meditative post-metal song. We dabbled in a similar direction in 2042 but really went into the future.
Te Rerenga Wairua, anglicized to Cape Reinga, is the furthest north tip of New Zealand and it is one the most mystical feeling places I have been and hold spiritual value to the Maori. The lyrics use the cape to speak about the Maori women I met in the area who combat domestic violence through restorative justice and try to break the legacy of colonialism in their communities. -Brent
Bahrain, like Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Qatar, are wholly dependent on migrant labor. And the system they have borders on slavery. Employers have so much control over the workers that they can restrict their movement, ignore their wages, and house them in fire hazard warehouses. I spent two years of my life researching these labor conditions and advocating for reforms in Bahrain and the one conversation that sticks out the most was with a Nepali worker who got choked up because my translator called him “sir.” He had just hadn't been referred to with respect like that since he had come to Bahrain. It only made sense to have Sanket [Lama] from Chepang, which we collaborated with on a split and happen to be a Nepali band, added some of his insane vocals. –Mani
Like in 2042, the last song is sorta the Racetraitor thesis statements. The lyrics are about the idea of an imagined future spiritual Pangaea. It’s a sufi song, quoting a lot from Persian Sufi poets like Saadi. It’s all about coming together and leaving the pain of the earth together. This is the song that makes me cry most often. –Mani