Back when alternative rock was saving rock 'n' roll, punk once again infiltrated the mainstream. Rancid did Lollapalooza. Green Day tossed sod at Woodstock '94. Hell, the Sex Pistols reunited.
On Reactionary, Southern California's Face to Face show they could've tossed mud with the best of 'em. Singer/guitarist Trevor Keith has a booming voice to make his points, an art he's been perfecting for five albums. Reactionary is a powerful collection of punk anthems that cover the emotional gamut, from hope ("Think for Yourself," "Solitaire") to hopelessness on "Hollow" (RealAudio excerpt).
Along the way, Face to Face supply a relentless stream of audio adrenaline, eschewing much of the radio-friendliness of their last record. Where that album's "The Devil You Know (God Is a Man)" earned airplay for sounding like a bastard mix of Catherine Wheel and Pearl Jam, Reactionary earns its stripes from pure punk glory. On "You Could've Had Everything," (RealAudio excerpt) Keith delivers twisting lyrics over pounding guitars. "Get in your self-assuredness/ And take it for a spin," he sings. "You'll be standing by yourself/ When they've all given in."
If Reactionary is fighting anything, it's the urge to cash in on a genre that's once again lost its luster and relevance. While the Offspring are a bunch of suckers with no self-esteem, Face to Face, it seems, have a mission. Consider it accomplished.