REVIEW: Cistem Failure – Resilience

Resilience is out in July 2017.

At any Cistem Failure show I go to I’m always the one at the front screaming along to the lyrics of their song ‘Boot on your Face’ which to me is one the greatest songs ever and perfectly sums up the frustrations of radical minded marginalised who chose to react to sexism with anger and bite. For me, the the first record (self-titled) is a boot on the face of folk, the sole is this riot grrrl inspired defiance which comes across so well and it’s one of my favourite records. But recently riot grrrl has started to show it’s flaws, and I’ve become disenfranchised with a lot of it.


When the first track from Resilience was released, ‘Mountains’ immediately became the prologue to a new direction for Cistem Failure. The new album takes a sharp left from the first and there is a technicality to it that demands respect. Both E and R play banjo, which you might think would be too much banjo (but really, there’s no such thing as too much banjo) – they make it work. It encompasses who they are, and their interchanging chords fit as well as their corse and well constructed harmonies, especially in ‘Mountains’ and ‘Anywhere But Here’.

Resilience is a political statement, one that constantly pines and reaches for the road, the woods, away from ‘artificial living’ . The haunting close to ‘Desert’ –  ‘All I really want is a truly dark night’ might be my favourite part of the album. For context, I listened to this on repeat whilst my partner and I took the van up the Peak District where we stayed in deep woods, by lakes and enormous Tors. Resilience inspired me in my surroundings, it vocalised some of how I was feeling in the wild and how much I felt the pull of the road, and the freedom of a transient life but it also highlighted the pain of that restlessness, of constantly being neither here no there. Songs like ‘Prison Song’ talk about freedom from confinement, but it hints to the world at large, how we are all products in confinement and the pull to nature is our response to the control and our heavily bordered manmade world.  This moves well into ‘How Do We Decide’ and ‘Get Your Hands Off Of Them’ which critiques ideas about migration, refugees and the legitimacy of authority that dictates who comes and goes, how we live and where we live.

Resilience is a beautiful album, it’s well produced, well written and most importantly, is a move forward, you can literally hear and see the growth of Cistem Failure and how they have progressed together. I am a big fan of feminist bands who can move beyond talking about sexism, who don’t feel like they constantly have to empower others so directly. Cistem Failure have experiences to share that go beyond gender. They are talking about other issues which is so refreshing. The DIY, ramshackle quality that is also an important ingredient to the identity of this band. I am so proud and happy for E and R, they should be super proud of this album and the messages that it shouts, sings and plays us through as a community constantly evolving and learning together. Resilience and Cistem Failure should be at the top of everyone’s favourite anarchist feminist list. Listen and learn.

Bristol album launch details



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