Protest Song Of The Week: ‘Expect The Bayonet’ by Sheer Mag
Sheer Mag is a do-it-yourself (DIY) band that makes music that is a blend of punk and heavy metal music with the pastiche of 1970s classic rock. They describe their music as a “caustic war cry, seething in solidarity with all those that suffer the brunt of ignorance and injustice in an imbalanced system.”
Their debut album, “Need To Feel Your Love,” was released on July 14. It contains several songs with a tinge of radical politics embraced by the band.
The Disrupt J20 protest in Washington, D.C., in response to President Donald Trump’s inauguration inspired the opening track, “Meet Me In The Street.” The Stonewall Riots inspired, “Suffer Me,” and Sophie Scholl, German student known for her resistance to the Nazis as part of the White Rose, inspired the final track.
“Expect the Bayonet,” the fourth track on the album, was inspired by the rise in voter suppression.
It alludes to the history of the United States, as a country “made for rich men in their white skin.”
Celebrating resistance to the settler colonial project, singer Tina Halladay sings, “And people bolder than I stood up to the lie that equality has left behind.”
“I been reading the news and you’ll surely regret/If you don’t give us the ballot/Expect the bayonet.”
There will be resistance, especially militant protest, against the ruling elites so long as they try and disenfranchise citizens.
Depriving people of power may result in violence. And if that is the case, it is a product of government authoritarianism plunging the country deeper into dystopia.
The song concludes with a promise that if the world is reduced to soot there will still be “solidarity for those underfoot.”
Matt Palmer, rhythm guitarist for the band, told DIY the song is influenced by the larger history of systemic racism in the United States. Justice Antonin Scalia saw the Voting Rights Act as a kind of “racial entitlement.”
“[Scalia] had this idea that the founding fathers knew exactly what they were talking about and that we shouldn’t be reinterpreting them or modifying our laws to accommodate oppressed minorities or other groups,” Palmer said. “To me, that’s just hypocritical.”
“At the time the Constitution was written, all the founding fathers were slave owners and women couldn’t vote. I can’t even imagine what they would think about homosexual rights, let alone trans rights! So really, it’s about how the United States has never been a truly free country, and there’s this weird contradiction about how the country was started and this lie that sort of has been perpetuated through our history,” Palmer added.
Listen to “Expect The Bayonet”:
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