CD Review: Offenders – We Must Rebel/I Hate Myself/Endless Struggle

Offenders – We Must Rebel/I Hate Myself/Endless Struggle
Southern Lord
All Access Rating: A-

Offenders - We Must Rebel/I Hate Myself/
Endless Struggle 2014
No history of Texas hardcore would be complete without a generous chapter devoted to Offenders. Roaring out of Killeen in 1978, Offenders brought their vitriolic rage and roiling energy to Austin two years later, showcasing rare musical prowess for a punk act while never losing that thirst for throat-burning shots of pure sonic violence.

Eager to toss a Molotov cocktail in the face of Reagan conservatism, Offenders and their brothers in arms, D.R.I. and M.D.C., rebelled against anything and everything that was remotely fascist, and they did so with strong song-oriented material rooted in '70s hard rock. In guitarist Anthony Johnson, a.k.a. Tony Offender, they had a skilled player with a bag full of tough, dynamic riffs who could solo like a madman, and bassist Mikey "Offender" Donaldson coaxed bubbling fury out of a Rickenbacker, leaving drummer Pat Doyle, who currently also plays with metal outfit Ignitor, and vocalist JJ Jacobson barely enough room to vent their respective spleens.

Offenders broke up in 1986, and Johnson, who became heavily involved in Civil War reenactments, and Donaldson have since passed on. Honoring their memory, both Offenders' LPs, Endless Struggle and We Must Rebel, have been packaged together with the fiery "I Hate Myself"/'Bad Times" 7-inch by Southern Lord in one blazing 25-track reissue.

Scorching guitars, suffocating environments and brawling rhythms power the short bursts of blowtorch punk that are "Coming Down," "Get Mad" and "Inside the Middle," a trio of swirling sonic maelstroms that clock in under two minutes. Every so often, Offenders toss in a curveball, like a raw, serrated cover of the Motown classic "You Keep Me Hanging On" or the Deep Purple-like "Endless Struggle," which features an organ intro that Jon Lord would admire and good, sure hooks. Heavy and metallic, "Bad Times" slowly, and beautifully, corrodes and almost dissolves, before reigniting a punk firestorm that burns up everything in sight, and "You Got a Right" is gathering darkness lit up only by the sparks coming off Johnson's guitar.

Offenders never quite get as locked-in as Minor Threat, preferring to play with more reckless abandon, Johnson's buzz-saw guitars – drawing blood and cutting off limbs in speeding "Face Down in the Dirt" and "Victory" – actually holding it all together to keep it from blowing apart. Doyle and Jacobson have revived Offenders, and if they have half the inspiration and violent musicianship of the original, they'll do just fine.
– Peter Lindblad

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