the rebel spell – last run – 4 stars out of 4 stars

Review from Punk News…4 stars out of 4 stars!

trslastrunPerhaps the quality I value most in traditional punk rock, at least in terms of its limited sonic spectrum, is when I can hear a true sense of urgency in a song. Bands that are able to make me feel like a freight train is about to fly off the rails and crash through my stereo speakers are often among my favorites. The Rebel Spell are one of these bands who deliver that sense of urgency with their frantic, hard-nosed, no-bullshit punk rock. Hailing from Vancouver, they embrace the DIY ethic and are one of the rare bands left in today’s landscape of old-timer reunion shows and colossal destination festivals who you might find playing at your town’s local dive bar for five dollars. After being won over immediately by a live performance in one of these said dive bars, I picked up their 2011 effort It’s a Beautiful Future and having been waiting for the new album to drop ever since.

Hoping The Rebel Spell would continue to use much of the same sound heard on their last record, I was more than pleased as soon as I hit play on Last Run. Crunchy riffs, fast beats and booming vocals take charge of the listener’s ears on a ride through 12 modern, punk n’ hardcore rippers that send messages along the likes of social change, routing for the underdog and not backing down. The title track begins with a piano intro and then transforms into one of the hardest hitting songs I’ve heard in a while with its chorus of “Don’t blame the wolf, don’t blame the seal, if it will help you can blame me!” The bangers keep coming with “Pride and Prejudice”, “Ten Thousand Years” and “All This Costs”, showing a good level of technical prowess that would likely get the nod from fans of Strike Anywhere or A Wilhelm Scream. The band also shows a bit of range in the later portion of the record. The mid-tempo track “I Heard You Singing” presents some uplifting vocal harmonies that I wasn’t expecting at first, but continue to dig more each listen. Deciding to push the five-minute mark with a punk song can often be a mistake, but the group tackles “The Tsilhqot’in War” quite well; lyrics describing events from the 1860’s battleground hold my attention to the point where I forget the song’s run time. The album closes with one more ripper called “Fight For The Sun” that ferociously brings the rumble to the very last note.

In an era where the DIY ethos of punk rock as been a bit diluted with legendary bands from the 1990’s heyday of Epitaph and Fat Wreck Chords deciding to come back (or in some cases deciding to never leave), it can be tough for some of us to find new bands who really bring it. I don’t like lo-fi garage rock. I’m not into acoustic solo projects. For me, when I discover a band like The Rebel Spell it is something special. Efforts from bands this true to what punk rock is about deserve a higher than average score, even if they never get featured on the latest Warped Tour compilation. Last Run delivers everything I want a punk rock album to be in 2014 and is without a doubt contending for top spot on my year end list.


“we meant war not murder”: a punk rock history of klatsassin and the tsilhquot’in war of 1864

History and punk rock togther in this article from Active History.ca …

We Meant War Not Murder”: A Punk Rock History of Klatsassin and the Tsilhqot’in War of 1864

By Sean Carleton

Vancouver punk band The Rebel Spell are touring across Canada this fall to promote their new record, Last Run. Released in late September, Last Run showcases the band’s song-writing skills and passion for social justice. What is most interesting for ActiveHistory.ca readers, however, is the fact that The Rebel Spell have included a song on their album about a historical event: the little-known Tsilhqot’in War in the colony of British Columbia in 1864. The song “The Tsilhqot’in War” commemorates the 150th anniversary of a significant moment in Canada’s colonial history that does not generally receive a lot of popular attention (see the Further Reading section below for some notable exceptions).

The Tsilhqot’in War was a conflict between Indigenous peoples of the Tsilhqot’in Nation in the interior plateau of the colony of British Columbia and a crew of construction workers building a road from Bute Inlet to the goldfields in the Cariboo. In the early 1860s, politician Alfred Waddington sponsored the building of an alternative route to the Cariboo goldfields to compete with the established Fraser Canyon road. Construction on the alternative route began in 1862 without proper consultation of the Indigenous peoples whose territories the road would travel. In that same year, a devastating smallpox epidemic, introduced by settlers, spread throughout the Pacific Northwest killing many Tsilhqot’in peoples.

Stuart Daniel, “Tsilhqot'in Territories,” A Traveller's Guide to Aboriginal B.C. Cheryl Coull (Vancouver: Whitecap, 1996), 148. http://www.canadianmysteries.ca/sites/klatsassin/context/maps/1029en.html

In the spring of 1864, as part of a strategy to stop the road’s construction and prevent further colonial encroachment on unceded lands, Tsilhqot’in members, led by Klatsassin, killed nineteen men. Fearing an organized Indigenous uprising, the colonial government of British Columbia used deceit to douse the flames of discontent: the state lured the Tsilhqot’in warriors to peace talks with promises of immunity only to arrest them, charge them with murder, and hang them as a show of force. In their defense, Klatsassin’s last words were “We Meant War Not Murder.” In part because of these events, the Bute Inlet road was abandoned and the Tsilhqot’in somewhat successfully resisted colonial intrusion for almost another one hundred years. In 1993, British Columbia’s Attorney General officially apologized for the hanging of Klatsassin and his fellow Tsilhqot’in warriors and the provincial government provided funding to locate their graves as a form of redress.

The Rebel Spell’s “The Tsilhqot’in War” offers an interpretation of this important conflict from an anti-colonial perspective and thus contributes to a greater understanding of Canada’s colonial past. The song does not get all the facts right, but by highlighting Tsilhqot’in agency in the face of disease and settlers’ attempted dispossession of Indigenous lands, The Rebel Spell successfully challenge Canada’s “myth of benevolence” which suggests colonialism was an entirely peaceful process. Such a song is especially timely given the Supreme Court of Canada’s unanimous decision early this summer to affirm Tsilhqot’in land title in British Columbia.


The Rebel Spell’s song supplements recent efforts—such as the “We Do Not Know his Name: Klatsassin and the Chilcotin War” section of Great Unsolved Mysteries in Canadian Historyand John Sutton Lutz’s excellent chapter on the Tsilhqot’in in his book Makúk—to shed new light on the Tsilhqot’in War and to showcase Indigenous peoples’ historical struggles for land and self-determination in what is now known as British Columbia.

The Rebel Spell’s punk rock history lesson is yet another positive sign of the growing interest in popular culture to focus on Canada’s colonial past and Indigenous peoples’ present struggles.

You can buy The Rebel Spell’s new record from their website and you can also listen to “The Tsilhqot’in War” and read the lyrics online for free.

Sean Carleton (@SeanCarleton) is an activist and educator living in Nogojiwanong (Peterborough), Ontario, Anishinaabe Territory. He is a PhD Candidate in the Frost Centre for Canadian Studies and Indigenous Studies at Trent University and he studies the history of colonialism, capitalism, and education in Canada.

Further Reading
Furniss, Elizabeth. The Burden of History: Colonialism and the Frontier Myth in a Rural Canadian Community. Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press. 1999.

Gough, Berry M. Gunboat Frontier: British Maritime Authority and Northwest Coast Indians, 1846-1890. Vancouver: University of British Columbia. 1984.

Lutz, John Sutton. “The Tsilhqot’in.” Makúk: A New History of Aboriginal-White Relations. Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press. 2008.

Van Rijn, Kiran. “‘Lo! the Poor Indian!’ Colonial Responses to the 1862-63 Smallpox Epidemix in British Columbia and Vancouver Island.” Canadian Bulletin of Medical History/Bulletin canadien d’histoire de la médecine. 23.3 (2006): 541-560.

“We Do Not Know His Name: Klatsassin and the Chilcotin War.” canadianmysteries.ca. http://canadianmysteries.ca/sites/klatsassin/home/indexen.html.


reviews from underdog fanzine

Here are a swell reviews of the Action Sedition / Spanner split 7″,  the Action Sedition / Streets Of Rage 10″  and the new Rebel Spell record, from our friends at  Underdog zine out of Germany!


 “History lessons” 7″

ACTION SEDITION bieten 2 rumpelige RASH-affine Straßenköter-Bastarde im Midtempo mit simplen Riffs und schönen Melodien, bei denen gleichermaßen der Angriff hinter den Barrikaden lospreschen kann und ein “Nous contre Vous” Angriff und Entschlossenheit signalisiert. Mir gefällt die Gitarrenarbeit, die als tragendes Element den Marsch der Gerechten vorantreibt.
SPANNER sind räudige Straßenhunde, die mit einer Kombination aus Dub und Punk die Fäuste in die Luft strecken und Resistance-Hymne(n) realisieren, die stark an Chumbawamba’s Marschrichtung erinnern, die eine ähnlich starke Kritik gegen Ausbeutung, Unterdrückung und Rassismus in anarchistisch konzipierte solidarische Lautmalerei gebündelt haben. Für mich der klare Sieger dieser Split. SPANNER ermöglichen kollektives Handeln und tanzen auf den brennenden Barrikaden.


“Split” M-LP

STREETS OF RAGE beschwören ihre (Nancy-)Crew und scheinen immer nur eines zu wollen: keep the fight. Mit wenigen Modulitäten ausgestattet, erreichen die simplen und straighten Riffs und Akkorde ein Ausknocken in der 12. Runde, tänzeln aber auch ein wenig, um den Gegner mürbe zu machen, um dann gnadenlos anzugreifen und die Straße zurückzuerobern oder das, was davon übrig geblieben ist.
ACTION SEDITION führen ihren Klassenkampf weiter und sind musikalisch fitter, druckvoller, als noch auf der “History Lessons”-Split. Und auch der Song “Classe contre classe” ist reifer und überzeugt spieltechnisch. Die hervorragende Gitarrenarbeit peitscht die Stimmung voran und hebt den Schunkel-Pogo-Faktor enorm. Tolle Weiterentwicklung der RASH-Combo aus Quebeq, die mit ihrem dritten Song “Nous Ne Reculerons Pas” einen Abräumer hinlegen, ein exzellentes Male/female-Wechselspiel mit Biss, Härte und Solidarität.

“Last run”
“I love the underdog every time I’m not sure why or what it means!” Ehrlich und tiefgreifend operieren THE REBEL SPELL auf ihrem neuen Album, das die Ideen optimiert, sozio-kulturelle, ökologische und ökonomische Bewegungen in einen dynamischen Prozess bündelt, der eine gehörig große Portion Selbstermächtigung und Aneignung zur Entfaltung autonomer Räume ermöglicht, die Gelegenheit für Selbstkritik, Zweifel und Reflexionen lässt. Punk und Politik mit Entschlossenheit, Selbstvertrauen und eine  Zivilcourage mit dem Fokus auf Kapitalismuskritik, Landraub, Rassismus und Umweltzerstörung. Und so vermischt sich Wut und Zuversicht, Energie, Frische und Tatkraft “to roll a storm, to move on”. THE REBELL SPELL schafft eine solidarische Stütze, baut ein unerschütterliches Gerüst mit kraft- und schwungvollen Melodien und treibenden Rhythmen, um Punk in seiner Offenheit weiter zu entwickeln und voranzubringen, dauerhaft und nachhaltig zu verändern. “Last run” ist ein fortlaufendes Statement, ein Manifest, ist aber auch ein musikalisches Reifezeugnis, das selbst mit häufig begleitenden sanften, kontrastreichen Pianoklängen die Erregung, den wütend-skeptischen Blick und die Vertrautheit verschärft. Und ja, es gibt keinen Grund zur Beruhigung. Dafür legt THE REBEL SPELL ein Unvollständigkeitsgefühl, ein als tiefgreifend empfundener Mangel an Respekt offen und spielt sich direkt, kompetent  und ehrlich in die Herzen einer sich wandelnden Gesellschaft, die nicht mehr tatenlos zusehen will, wie Autoritäten und Hierarchien alles zerstören. Insofern fungiert THE REBEL SPELL auch als ein politisches Netzwerk, diese Machtkonzentrationen subversiv zu begegnen.


action sedition and the rebel spell together in quebec

Attache ta tuque! / Hang on to your hat!

Label-mates Action Sedition (Montreal) and The Rebel Spell (Vancouver)are joining forces in Quebec for a couple of shows as The Rebel Spell roll their ‘Last Run’ tour across Canada…

More info on October 26th show in Saint-Hyacinthe.

More info on October 27th show in Sherbrooke.

As well, The Rebel Spell (without Action Sedition, but with a bunch of other great bands!) will be playing in Montreal on October 25th. More info about this show here. A RASH Montreal and Bobette Productions presentation!

Complete ‘Last Run’ tour dates can be found an entry or two below!


Action Sedition: Class Against Class

The Rebel Spell: I Am A Rifle


the fallout – upcoming shows

The Fallout are playing a few shows with The Rebel Spell and Brutal Youth in November!

Kitchener-Waterloo: Friday, November 7th @ The Outpost, with The Rebel Spell, Brutal Youth and Expect Resistance

Toronto: Saturday, November 8th @ The Bovine Sex Club with The Rebel Spell, Brutal Youth and Katatonix

Hamilton: Sunday, November 9th @ This Ain’t Hollywood with The Rebel Spell, The Class Assassins, Brutal Youth and Come Out Swinging

More info on all the shows can be found at the following links:

Kitchener-Waterloo Show
Toronto Show
Hamilton Show



the rebel spell: 5/5 stars!

A very thoughtful critique of the new album from Dying Scene

trslastrunAlbum Review: The Rebel Spell – “Last Run”
Posted by Carson Winter on Wednesday, October 15, 2014 at 12:45 PM (PST)
Editor Rating: Five Stars
User’s Rating: Five Stars

I’m not sure if I like the Rebel Spell’s Last Run. It hits me in a place that is so rare and specific that it only highlights how rarely I get hit. I’ll dispense with the fuckery as soon as possible, because the questions that the Last Run brought up deserve an examination. It’s a Beautiful Future was something of a sleeper hit with many, and those who loved the first album will be surely excited for the latest. But for me, it brings me to a place I love and loathe in equal measures.

Last Run is perfectly executed. I’ll get that out of the way immediately. Musically, it’s a loud and brash behemoth that reminds me a little bit of Morning Glory’s bombast in Poets Were My Heroes. But the anchor is dropped in the tight ferocity of skate punk. The first track, “Hopeless,” wears its influences on its sleeve with chugged power chords and a big chorus. “Breathe” introduces a more metallic side to the band, featuring an extended guitar solo that perhaps hints at their greatest influence, fellow Canadians Propagandhi. The title track is the first hint of their grander musical tendencies, and when the rock instruments fade out halfway through and all that’s left is melancholy piano notes and the howls of “Blame me! Blame me! Blame Me!,” it becomes quickly apparent that this is a band equipped to transcend.

“The Tsilhqot’in War” is the masterpiece on the album, a sprawling, epic song that opens with Jo Yeong-wook-esque strings. Its difficult to sustain a five minute punk song, but here the Rebel Spell do it with ease– transforming their passion into an audience’s rapt attention. Throughout Last Run, they have a firm hand on both music and lyrics, executing each one impressively.

I won’t bury the lead: I hate political punk. It reeks of attentive masturbation and holier-than-thou posturing that preaches directly to the choir and little else. I think back to the earliest punk rockers, these willfully nihilistic dinosaurs of another time and place; they were certainly political, but it was mostly discourse grounded in the real world. They were tearing down the barriers between musician and audience, and one of the ways they were doing it was through the issues of the time. They sang about the downtrodden, for the downtrodden– it was all blue collar anthems for the freaks on the outskirts by the freaks on the outskirts, and everyone bought in because the gap was closing. With the Rebel Spell, I only feel like they’re widening the gap.

Bare with me, this may be a little out-of-bounds for a review, but I’m going to bring in a quote from the Rebel Spell’s Facebook in the interest of painting a fuller picture of this band and their stances:

“We don’t like things all that much and we tend to think for ourselves. Food, shelter, warm clothes, community, friendship, travel, love, hate, you know life.”

That’s right. They don’t like ‘things.’ The road to punk rock nirvana is a road paved with much treachery and deceit, but the Rebel Spell have risen above it all. They’re levitating somewhere by a bird’s nest, viceless wonders wondering how all these mere mortals can live with themselves, living their lives of consumption and little less. The gap widens.

I’m not a paragon of punk virtue. I have a cell phone. I pay Comcast for my internet. I bought Nicki Minaj’s “Anaconda” single. But nonetheless I believe in DIY art and the complete unfettered pursuit thereof. Punk rock is a place for the bellows of the downtrodden to be heard and felt, but for me, Last Run just sounds like a checklist of punk rock talking points being checked by a band so far removed from modern human experience it feels like the far left version of telling a homeless guy to “just get a job.”

It’s all here. Racism is bad. Religion is bad. The environment needs protecting. Sexism is bad. White people mistreated Native Americans. Cops are criminals, man! But the one that irks me the most is the Luddite streak that runs through “Breathe.” It comes off as a thoughtless target when so many of us use technology as a means to communicate and learn. We all get annoyed when we’re talking to someone and their nose is in their phone, or when the kid with headphones jumps into the middle of the street like Dr. Dre personally told him to, but I guess it all comes off as too black and white. I always go back to Videodrome on this, David Cronenberg’s 1983 film that handles the growing prevalence of technology in our lives with surprising prescience. The film depicts the merging of man and machine and reality with television, and the general takeaway is that technology is just another step in our evolution. It’s scary because it’s new, but who’s to say which of the before or after is better? The easy thing to say is “let’s regress back to what we know.” But the challenging thing is to admit that the things you loathe are just things (as the Rebel Spell are happy to not be into), and there is no perfect or natural state. Humanity is fluid. Long live the new flesh, baby.

I’d like to think that we’ve moved beyond the usual punk topics. Why not write a song about the dissonance some of us feel between enjoying our consumerist culture while we vehemently trash it in our art? Why not write a song about balancing your belief in feminism with your everyday objectification? Are the Rebel Spell so far across the gap they’ve never found joy in modern vices or the perfect shape of a twenty-something’s ass? They might be, but I’m not. I partake in grey areas of morality all day and all night, because I’m not perfect and it’s not something I want to strive for. The disconnect here might not be from artist to audience, but from person to person.

But, the other take on it is this: Last Run is exactly what we need in punk rock. Maybe the Rebel Spell is right, and I’m sucking on the teats of the corporations and I need to protest a pipeline and live amongst bears right-fucking-now. Maybe the basics are being pounded out again and again because they happen to be important, and they happen to be outsider issues worth discussion. Maybe the rest of us, living in the system don’t get it and this is the benevolent aural hand to slap us in the face and yell: “wake the fuck up!” And it very well could be just another political punk jerk-off session. If it is, I hope they came. But, I’m left with the very real sense that Last Run is a work of art. It’s certainly confrontational, but it interacted with me in a way that a lot of music just doesn’t. There’s give and take here. It made me think– reconsider what is important to me and inspires me to discuss and write a review that is too long for anyone’s good. And all of that is worth a lot more than just finding something to agree with.

5/5 Stars


The Rebel Spell get ready for last run

Here’s an interview, by Allan Macinnis, with The rebel Spell that was just published at Straight.com ….



When Todd Serious, singer for long-lived Vancouver punks the Rebel Spell, connects with the Straight on a video call, he’s wearing a Sea Shepherd hoodie in a Spartan, pale-green room somewhere in the desert climes of Lillooet, B.C. Along with the band’s first-name-only drummer (Travis), he lives there nowadays. Guitarist Wretched Erin and bassist Elliot (both of whom also have little use for their surnames) drive up on a semiregular basis to practise, with Serious and Travis making the trek in the opposite direction for Vancouver gigs. Seems a bit inconvenient; so why, exactly, does the singer want to live in Lillooet?

“It’s just a change,” he says, shrugging. “It’s small and it’s dry—totally the opposite from Vancouver. I did several Vancouver winters living in my bus, and you just get tired of it, of mould growing on everything. And I guess when I was a kid, being a skateboarder, rain was like the worst enemy you could have. And now I’m a climber, and rain is still a terrible thing. It’s sunny here all year, so that’s really nice.”

It’s not as terrible for band practices as one might think, either. “There is the inconvenience of Elliot and Erin having to drive up here, but we don’t have to pay to jam,” Serious says. “We can use my house. If I go to Vancouver it’s, like, $75 to jam. Rehearsals to tour would cost us $600.”

Counting the digital EP that came out on Propagandhi’s G7 Welcoming Committee label in 2007—Four Songs About Freedom—the new album, Last Run, is the Rebel Spell’s fifth release. It’s also their first time with Vancouver producer Jesse Gander, who has done amazing things with the band’s sound; never has Wretched Erin’s guitar sounded so clear.

“Jesse’s kind of known for that, for guitar sound,” Serious says.

Gander ran through several amps with the band at his studio, Rain City Recorders, finally settling, for primary tone, on the Marshall JCM 900 that Erin has used on every record the Rebel Spell has done since forming in 2002. “It was weird watching him work,” Serious observes. “He was really fast with the guitar stuff, but he just nailed it, right away.”

Last Run is an ominous title, suggesting that it might be the Rebel Spell’s final stab at saving the world before it descends into embittered Phil Ochs–like alcoholism and despair. But Serious reassures fans that that’s not where they’re coming from.

“If anything, I knew this tour was probably going to be the last run for the bus we’ve been running for so many years,” he says, noting that he’d personally converted it to run on vegetable oil. “So that’s a little personal note in there.”

But you can extrapolate it into a much bigger picture, he adds. “We don’t have a lot of time left with this particular arrangement we’re living under. There’s going to be a big messy change soon. We see these little economic failings, like the U.S. falling to its knees momentarily, but these are just the symptoms that are building; we’re going to have a real big one that’s going to go global. And when everybody has the same economic problems at the same time, they’re not going to be able to pick each other back up.”

Besides the dire state of the world, Last Run touches on cheery topics like police brutality (“Ten Thousand Years”), prisons (“Fight for the Sun”), and genocidal colonialism (“The Tsilhqot’in War”, featuring violinist Jeff Andrew). Then there’s the title track, which also touches on Serious’s passion for animal rights.

“That song started out being about the wolf culls in northern Alberta,” he notes. “Then I realized they were doing the same things with seals, blaming them for the collapse of fish stocks. It’s just absurd.”

If the band’s idealism remains intact, there’s also a sense, especially with songs like the opener, “Hopeless”, that it’s costing Serious more to maintain it—an observation he readily acknowledges.

“If you remember on Days of Rage [the band’s 2005 LP], there was that song, ‘Sit With Me Anger’, about how as you get older, you start to think about things more, you see all the nuances, it’s not so black-and-white anymore, and you can’t just split good and bad. I’m finding that more and more difficult,” he admits.

“I Heard You Singing”, perhaps the most chilling song on the album, even finds the singer acknowledging that he may not have the courage to live out the life he envisions to the fullest.

“The lyrical theme of it is almost very literal, walking out into the woods, into the mountains. There’s that primitivist ideal of leaving everything, and going to live in the hills, and it’s about hearing that call, and being too scared to take it. It’s right there. It’s right here—I can walk out now,” he says, gesturing at the forest and the mountains outside his door. “In a way, that would be the ultimate realization of a lot of the ideals I hold.”

The Rebel Spell hosts an album-release party for Last Run at 333 Clark Drive on Saturday (October 11).

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