Although Black Flag had some underground successes as a band prior to this, their first album release, they had not found their true sound until here. With the addition of the legendary singer and visionary Henry Rollins, this was a landmark release that changed the underground alternative music scene forever in the years to come. Let’s take a listen to this Punk inspired effort and see how it sounds today. It helped shape the future of the Punk scene in the USA.
We kick off with Rise Above which has a drum led intro, before some guitar enters and this tune gets underway. It is a crazy sounding piece with shouted vocals. It is much more rhythm than melody here. Short but awesome at two and a half minutes long, this is quite good.
Next is Spray Paint which is a half minute piece that is rather odd and random for a piece of music, with shouty vocals and a fast tune at hand. It is over before you know it.
Six Pack is next, and begins with a fast bass guitar riff. Before long, some dead on drumbeats emerge and this tune gets underway. It is a song about alcoholic adventures set to music. A bit weird, but an okay listen nonetheless. Weird and wonderful, this is a good but maybe not great piece about drinking.
What I See begins with more excellent bass guitar work followed by pounding drums. It then goes into a fairly average piece that has not aged well at all. It is a song about self-destructive emotions at hand, and just isn’t really a great piece of music. Pretty ordinary, to be honest.
Following is TV Party which is a lot better, beginning with a classic bass guitar and electric guitar melody. It goes into a satirical piece of music about people who have nothing better than watch TV 24/7. It hasn’t aged very well, but at least is somewhat entertaining lyrically. With some good playing here instrumentally, this is a refreshing tune for this album. There is a twist towards the end of the song, which is interesting. Good and satirical humour in a Hardcore Punk piece.
Next is Thirsty And Miserable which begins with a heavily feedback piece of guitar playing. It then goes into an anti-melodic piece that is about youthful angst. An ordinary sounding song, unless discordant playing and shouting are your sort of thing musically. The guitar solo is awful here, this is pretty trashy music. But, as they sometimes say, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. But still, this is largely forgettable.
Police Story begins with a noisy intro, before bursting into a likely honest statement from Black Flag. This, once again, sounds incredibly dated and ordinary. It would have likely been inspired by troubles that Black Flag themselves had with the police in L.A. Still, really awful to hear.
Gimmie Gimmie Gimmie comes next and is a vast improvement on some of the songs here, with a catchy intro and some better instrumentation and playing from Black Flag. It is a shorter and better sounding piece that is refreshing to hear, and sounds quite different. Less than two minutes long, it is a witty piece which is anti-consumerist. Good to hear.
Next up is Depression which opens with more head splitting feedback, and sounds pretty awful. The song then kicks off with screamed vocals from Henry Rollins and it sounds like Punk Rock on meth, which it probably was. Very little musical appeal is here, and this is pretty ordinary and laughable. Fortunately, it is less than three minutes long, but still is worthless in the history of music. Largely forgettable.
Following is Room 13 which is slower but still really painfully awful to hear. There is a great guitar riff in the breakdown, but apart from that, this is another horrible song which lacks musicality to it. More “art” than actual music, this is really not on. Rubbish, the outro is pathetic.
Damaged II is next, with some loud guitars and full on assault for music. It’s a bit longer unfortunately. A better effort though, but still stuck in the same limited musical template, this music is truly awful overall. Likely one of the most overrated releases to this date, Black Flag did not make great music. The breakdowns here are the worst, and this sounds like the worst Garage band out there. You’ll be glad when it’s over.
No More begins with a lone bass guitar part, which is rather lengthy for this sort of thing. It gradually speeds up with drums, and is a very good launchpad musically. Then the rest of the band join in, and we have another awful song to listen to. If you can exchange this CD for half an hour of banging your head against a brick wall, do so. Another rubbish song.
Up next is Padded Cell which is more of the same and goes for less than two minutes. Obviously about a fairly confrontational set of topics, the music and the lyrics here make no sense. Why would anyone make such awful music? Discordant, full of inaccuracies and horrible sounding, Black Flag do terribly here. Fortunately, it is very short.
Following is Life Of Pain which begins with some weird riffs that sound pretty horrible. It is supposed to be scary, but ends up being laughably bad instead. This continues for what seems like ages, before going into a song that is sounding like a person who cannot handle life. Pathetic and unlistenable, this is not great music as is otherwise said. The outro here isn’t necessary either. Mindbogglingly bad.
Damaged I is last here, and who really wants to hear more? This song is really super bad and awful. If Black Flag had a musical grave, this would be the nails in the coffin for them. Awful, screaming and discordant, this is a real joke for musical history. Fortunately, it is only three minutes long. No more should be said about this throwaway album, just avoid it.
This is one of the worst albums ever made, and is only really recommended for those who are absolutely into Hardcore Punk. It is a running joke on listening. There is no musicality nor freshness in a good way about it. This is actually worse than the music on the radio today, too. Avoid this as much as possible.
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