It’s a proven fact: As the state of the nation gets shittier, the punk rock gets better. So it’s no surprise that it took a goofball president to bring out NOFX’s serious side.

Starting with the psychobilly-style guitar intro on the album’s first track, it’s clear The War on Errorism is angrier than their last two releases, which were silly collections of songs about sex changes and assorted bodily functions. In fact, this record is so focused that almost every song deals with one of two subjects: 1) the escalating ignorance in American society and 2) the escalating crappiness of current punk rock music.

“Medio-core” attacks mid-tempo MTV pretty-punk by showing how easy it is to make – the beginning sounds like Blink with its simple beat and catchy melody before tearing off into Fat Mike’s frantic rant: “Are you ready to rock? / How you all doin’ tonight? / You condescending fucks make me want to laugh and puke at the same time / I’m one to speak – this song sounds like 50 you’ve heard before / Medio-core.”

The cover features George W. with a clown face, but “Regaining Unconsciousness” argues that the real dummies are the American people: “And you still believe this aristocracy gives a fuck about you / They put the mock in demockracy and you swallowed every hook.”

Most of the 14 tracks place such an emphasis on the message that the music, and even rhythm and rhyme, occasionally take a backseat – ahem, “failure” does not rhyme with “Nader.” But the music is still very good – usually fast and tight with unexpected rhythm and chord changes. The result is a powerful mix of raw outrage and professional polish.

[Travis Hunter has been living in fear since Nov. 7, 2000.]