Showing posts with label Minor Threat. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Minor Threat. Show all posts

CD Review: Agnostic Front – The American Dream Died

CD Review: Agnostic Front – The American Dream Died
Nuclear Blast
All Access Rating: A-

Agnostic Front - The American
Dream Died 2015
Anger management classes would be a waste of time for the seminal New York City hardcore faction Agnostic Front.

Worse yet, they might rob them of their raison d'etre, their vitriolic rage at almost anything and everything fueling their very existence. On The American Dream Died, album No. 11 for Roger Miret and company out soon via the Nuclear Blast label, they are mad as hell and extremely focused, and a pissed off Agnostic Front is one that demands you listen and listen good.

Spitting nails amid a frenzy of fast, aggressive punk and shouted Oi! mayhem and seething crossover thrash, Agnostic Front confronts head on a litany of socio-political issues on The American Dream Died, attacking police brutality, corporate greed, environmental catastrophe, the shameful neglect of down-on-their-luck war veterans and vicious warmongers with righteous indignation.

The hardest of hardcore bands, with the scars to prove it, Agnostic Front is as battle-tested as any outfit, slugging it out in close, sweaty quarters for 30 years in a scene notorious for violence. Agnostic Front wouldn't have it any other way apparently, declaring their undying commitment to and love of hardcore in infectious, gripping anthems "Just Like Yesterday," "Never Walk Alone" and the mid-tempo bruiser "We Walk The Line" as taut and sinewy as a young Bruce Lee. In similar fashion, they lament the soul-sucking gentrification of their hometown in the stirring and strongly melodic "Old New York."

While the short, sharp busts of "Police Violence" and "No War Fuck You" thrive on angry chaos and barely harnessed speed, and the title track is a blazing, straightforward punk missile shot at a variety of societal ills, "Test of Time" sees Agnostic Front charging headlong into a metallic, grindcore scrum, where grooves as hard as prison bars are locked and loaded. And although The American Dream Died is hardly a reinvention of hardcore or even a slight detour of any kind for Agnostic Front, a track like "Enough is Enough" can spring a surprising trap, its wildly disordered beginning giving way to strong, more menacing and shadowy currents.

As furious as ever, Agnostic Front continues to hone and sharpen their sonic attack, and The American Dream Died is like getting shivved over and over again in the yard.
– Peter Lindblad

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

CD Review: Bl'ast! – Blood!

CD Review: Bl’ast! – Blood!
Southern Lord
All Access Rating: A-

Bl'ast! - Blood! 2013
As was made abundantly clear while waxing nostalgic about Sound City in his feel-good documentary film about the place, Dave Grohl plans to put the famed studio’s grand old Neve console – the one that brought to life the magic of Fleetwood Mac’s Rumors and Nirvana’s Nevermind – to good use.

Breathing new life into some long-lost vintage master tapes of Santa Cruz hardcore heroes Bl’ast was one of his first orders of business, and he takes a flamethrower to material that was already highly flammable, his remastering and mixing work enhancing the already concentrated violence and red-eyed fury of these unpredictable punk-rock seizures. And he’s just a bit player in this drama, as was William DuVall – now plying his trade with Alice in Chains.

Blood! is reportedly the only document of DuVall making sweet fiery hardcore with Bl’ast. Industrious rhythms and rampaging guitars that are thicker and wider than one would expect are what cause the sudden impact of Blood!, but don’t mistake activity for a lack of musicality. Still, raw power and unbridled fury course through its veins, as the aptly titled Blood! packs enough explosives into these combustible tracks to attract the unwanted attention of the ATF. From the first bruising, urgent rumblings and building momentum of “Only Time Will Tell” to the sharp turns negotiated throughout the blazing “Something Beyond,” the high-octane action of Blood! is breathtakingly fast, aggressive and relentless.

Even while Bl’ast cultivates a resonant, animalistic growl in guitar tone, something most old punks cared nothing about, on Blood! they engage in dizzying shifts of dynamics in “Ssshhh,” “Sometimes” and “Winding Down” while driving impossibly fast, but never recklessly, as they brake and stomp on the accelerator through the stop-start traffic of “Sequel.” Knowing exactly what direction they want to go, Bl’ast feverishly tears through the 1:38 “Poison” – tied for the shortest song on Blood! – as if they have three strikes against them and they’re being chased by California cops, but they never seem desperate or self-destructive.

Then again, jail might be preferable to the unsettling psychology of “Your Eyes,” made even more deliciously disturbing by heavy, almost sludgy, metallic riffs that rise up and look to the heavens for deliverance. If Minor Threat took more of a liking to Black Sabbath and explored slightly longer forms and staged more angular sonic ambushes, all while maintaining its muscular torque, they might have made the tempestuous, biting and brawny Blood! As it is, there are only a few hardcore acts with this kind of DNA, Black Flag being one of them. If Henry Rollins needs a transfusion, he might want to give Bl’ast – these raging sonic contortionists of the highest caliber – a call.
– Peter Lindblad