Thursday, December 2, 2010

False Flag Attack

I guess I was never what you could call a very orthodox punk. There were plenty of bands that were considered canonical that I just never could get into. Cases in point: though many would have dubbed me straight edge throughout high school and college, I despise Minor Threat (though “Filler” is a damn fine exception) and think Ian MacKaye is a self righteous prick. I also hate the Misfits and take an immediate loathing to the kind of toothless meatheads you see in pretty much every mall Hot Topic sporting that goofy skull logo.
Likewise, Black Flag was a band I struggled with for many years. A lot of it is because the whole Henry Rollins persona irritates the shit outta me for reasons I can’t quite articulate.
I eventually made my peace with Black Flag much later in life, backing my way into the band through the music of those they influenced. But I still thank Damaged is painfully overrated, particularly in light of Greg Ginn’s later masterworks. Ginn is simply the greatest punk to ever sorta tune a guitar and it was hearing his atonal template trickle down through the next few generations that brought me back around to the original.
Here are three bands that radically altered by thinking about Black Flag.

Sick of it All
If anybody can claim Rollins’ caterwaul/catharsis crown, it would be hardcore stalwart Tim Singer. Dude had a band called Family Man, f’fuckssakes, but most of you probably know him as the guy popping forehead veins in Deadguy. Now I loved Deadguy just as much as the next 'banger, but, for me, Kiss it Goodbye was always the most interesting and cathartic of Singer’s bands. And if I’m going to reach for one song by Singer, it’s going to be the titanic drone of “Sick Day,” which has helped me come to appreciate the B-side of My War more as I get older. In fact, I doubt this amazing song would even exist without that polarizing Black Flag album and the sepulchral misery of “Nothing Left Inside.” It defied the “play faster” ethos of the era by daring to get down with the doom. Hell, this was an era when Saint Vitus and Black Flag shared a label, something that still astounds 20 years later.

Fuck Yeah
If any band in recent years has fully embraced Black Flag’s proposition that punk is a process and not a product, it would have to be Canadian audio provocateurs Fucked Up. With a swing like Class of ’77 Brit punk band, Fucked Up also channeled Black Flag’s unique blend of down and dirty punk and elevated aspirations from the transitional Slip it In and Loose Nut albums with a toe tapper like the scorching “The Black Hats.” It sends a shout out to that era when Black Flag was coming out of a crippling lawsuit that essentially sidelined their efforts but gave them the space they needed to nurture a sound that just couldn’t be contained by the strictures of what passed for punk at the time. A song like “Bastard in Love” still had one Doc Marten firmly planted in Los Angeles’ grimy underbelly, but Ginn and (sigh, yes, even) Rollins were beginning to grapple with the expanded possibilities of lyrical narrative and sonic dynamism.

Harmonic Convergence
As I said, Black Flag’s more e/in-volved later albums are far more interesting to me than their early generic punk works, and nobody in hardcore has really pushed the songwriting aspect as much as Kurt Ballou and his co-conspirators in Converge. Converge’s quiet mastermind has fully embraced the notion of abrading traditional song structure with a scouring pad of atonal awesomeness filigreed with amazing single note runs that jolt me into immediate attention. In fact, it was songs like album of the decade contender Jane Doe’s opening “Concubine” that lead me back to late catalogue goodness like In My Head’s title track, which shames all of the Flag’s narrow minded three chord contemporaries for its shifting tempos, textures and trills.

Here’s a quick comp of the songs that lead me back to an appreciation of one of punk’s finest practitioners. Enjoy.
Meanwhile, this is my list of other supposedly classic bands that don’t do shit for me. What classics can’t you stand?

The Beatles
Black Sabbath without Ozzy
Cannibal Corpse
The Exploited
The Germs
Judas Priest
King Diamond
Led Zeppelin
Minor Threat
Morbid Angel
Ozzy’s solo material


Alex Layzell said...

I would say all of your list, except for Death, Deicide and Morbid Angel being a death metal nutcase as well as a Grindcore one takes me to that side of the camp.
Recently I really have gone off black flag, used to love them a few years ago, but now they just seem dull, any love for Poison Idea? From what I have heard so far I like.

Andrew Childers said...

ortho: i'm agnostic on poison idea. i don't mind it, but i don't own any either.

square: what can i say? something about venom just doesn't move me. they're a lot like diamond head, one or two good songs that were covered by somebody else and a whole lot of cheezy filler. "teacher's pet," i'm looking at you. plus lame satanism just seems like trying to hard.

Anonymous said...

gothic rock (bauhaus, S & the banshees etc.)
the beatles
cannibal corpse (like their later albums)
minor threat (WAY overrated)
most 80s heavy metal
cro mags
pantera (every 2nd metalhead here in india worship these guys after iron maiden)

Will said...

I'm going to go out on a limb here and say Black Sabbath with Ozzy too. His voice is atrocious. As far as I'm concerned, they may as well have been fronted by Gilbert Gottfried. Are the riffs cool? yes, but Ozzy is a dealbreaker.

also, the ramones
black flag
the smiths

DesiccatedVeins said...

Fuck Pantera, fuck Cannibal Corpse, fuck solo Ozzy, solo Dio AND post-Ozzy Sabbath (also fuck zombie reality-star Ozzy, for good measure.) I've got a little love for Judas Priest (mostly because Halford had the strength to come out to the metal community, plus the fact that "Painkiller" rules and is the song most in need of a grindcore cover since the Yeah Yeah Yeahs' "Rich.")Also, as I've mentioned before, I've got love for Death's Scream Bloody Gore because it's about 2 steps away from being Repulsion with longer songs. I made my peace with the Beatles a couple of years ago, although even Beatles fans know they've got useless albums. As for Deicide and Minor Threat, I don't mind if they're on, although I don't often seek them out to listen to.

As for personally, I don't get the hype around Sepultura (although I do have fun screaming "BI-O-TECH! BI-O-TECH! BI-O-TECH -- IS GODZEELA!") and although I love Lee Dorrian, have yet to get into Cathedral. I don't have a huge problem with the Pistols, except for the fact that Nevermind the Bollocks... only has about 3 memorable songs on it. James Chance and the Contortions, DNA, Teenage Jesus and the Jerks and Richard Hell and the Voidoids all deserve more credit than the Pistols got. Oh, fuck the Ramones for every song sounding the same, too.

Andrew Childers said...

zmaj: hell yeah. i've been kicking around a sonics post for about two years and just haven't got off my ass to write it.

when i was in college there was an awesome local bar band that did almost nothing but stooges/stones/sonics covers. every college town needs one of those.

Anonymous said...

I dislike some of the bands that and Decibel magazine pimp. It's not that I hate the bands per se, it's the hype they are given my these two crappy review places. I think Baroness and Torche are on the top of that list. They are OK bands, I just don't see what the big deal is etc... Oh and the Rolling Stones, except for one song, I really hate them.

Andrew Childers said...

steve, while i love the stones (between let it bleed and exile on mainstreet-era), it does bug the shit outta me when i read an interview with a band and they're the MOST EXTREMIST EXTREMELY EXTREME EVAR!!1! and the they give them a review a month later and it's like a 4/10. if a band sucks, don't interview them.

brutalex said...

I have an easier time hating new 'it' bands than 'classics', really. Yeah, Pantera suck but I'm obviously not going to convince their fans of that. Newer bands, however, are much easier to expose. You are about to be caught... in a rant.

Like Steve was saying, those Decibel pimped bands and the like really annoy me. Fuck Torche. Fuck Nachtmystium. Fuck Baroness. Just because your band has a Foo Fighter's influence it does not make your band original, nor does it make you 'open-minded' for liking it. While I'm at it; fuck Nails. Fuck Dillinger post-2002 and fuck Agalloch.

And finally, fuck the Smiths for writing the same song over, and over, and over, and over...

Thank you, goodnight.

brutalex said...

eh, more of a winge than a rant, wasn't it? Oh well.

Zmaj said...

Andrew: That sounds utterly awesome, both the post and the bar.

And, erm, aren't we all elitists an' shit... I'd say that The Smiths did not write the same song over and over any more than most of the bands that we listen to keep writing the same fucking songs. This is the sad fact of my listening experience if I listen to obviously riff-based music.

'You say : "'Ere thrice the sun done salutation to the dawn"
And you claim these words as your own
But I've read well, and I've heard them said
A hundred times (maybe less, maybe more)
If you must write prose/poems
The words you use should be your own
Don't plagiarise or take "on loan"'

Andrew Childers said...

rant away, alex!

and another thing, those damn bands who conflate just being weird with being original.

and professor z has nailed us again. i bet if i was forced to do a blind listen to phobia, catheter and excruciating terror and try to name which was which, i'd only have a 50 percent success rate.

orfee said...

I think it has a lot to do with space/time/context. I never got anyone telling me how this grind band and that band is cool/important so, I don't remember listening to an entire Napalm Death song ever, except for "You Suffer". Public Enemy was the first punk band I got into.

I love Leadbelly and Robert Johnson but dislike The Rolling Stones.


Miskatonic said...

The Beatles - I dig em. FUCKING HATE McCartney solo!!!
Black Sabbath without Ozzy - Haven't heard much w/o Ozzy but have a certain fondness for TYR.
Cannibal Corpse - Which CC?
Death - Glorious Death. Prefer older material.
Deicide - First two records only. SoR wasn't bad (except the shiny solos.)
Dio Never delved.
The Exploited - Never delved.
The Germs - Never delved but I plan to.
Judas Priest - I like but will never love this band. Painkiller totally rules.
King Diamond - Rarely listen, but kinda like.
Led Zeppelin - First five are awesome! Especially II.
Minor Threat - Never delved
Misfits - I have nothing but love for this band. Glenn Danzig is one of the best songwriters of the last 40 years. Static Age is one of the greatest albums ever recorded. I feel sorry for you missing out on this band. Don't let mall punks ruin it for you!!!
Morbid Angel - Glorious!
Ozzy’s solo material - Uggh. Crazy Train is undeniably catchy. The rest is almost all trash. Zack Wilde has the worst tone ever!
Pantera - I grew up on VDoP. I recently returned to it and it did not hold up. GSTK is okay. I don't care about the rest.
Venom - That na na na na na guitar lick that opens Teacher's Pet makes me want to throw my stereo out the window. I haven't heard anything but Black Metal.

brutalex said...

I did indeed rant but for some reason it didn't get posted.

I am too lazy to rewrite it at this juncture

DesiccatedVeins said...

Oh, the only thing I like about Pantera is Seth Putnam, i.e. whatever guest vocal parts he did on their songs plus AxCx's "GSTK" cover.

Shane Ivezic said...

Black Flag... Except for the songs Wasted and Nervous Breakdown, thanks largely to the classic skate video Streets On Fire. The rest... yawn.
Obituary..."For the last fucking time. No! I don't want to go see them play live"... "But why?"... "Because i'll gouge your eyes out if you ask me again.".."Oh, i see"
Ramones... Party Killer. After years of irritating unimaginative over use by vacuous disco punks, it stands as nothing more than a repeated and monotonous blow to the head with a large inflatable black leather balloon. How could i have been so wrong? Stupid gullible 15 year old syndrome i suspect.
Anthrax... I blame anthrax... the disease. Much more exciting than the band. Overblown twisted sister thrash guitar wankfest.
Slayer... I would rather listen to paint dry. Silence is more brutal.
Discharge... I tried so hard. But apparently if i really don't like something, it's difficult to convince myself otherwise. As for the d-beat clones... homogenized hilarity!
Agnostic Front.. should blow the Cro-Mags whilst being penetrated by a syphilitic pack of rabid Integrity fans.
The Smiths should be erased from history. Horrible Shit. The Worst. Anyway, they're about as metal as talcum powder, why even mention them? Puke.
Mayhem... Is like calling your pet rabbit 'Driller Killer' or nicknaming your weedy midget friend 'Burzum'. Fuck off the lot of you.
Deicide... i hesitated due to the fact that i would rate Legion as one of my favourite classic death albums, and because Trevor Brown did the artwork for Once Upon The Cross, but fuck it. Anything else by Deicide is a chore. Pass the fucking vacuum.

Hating shit is fun.

Miskatonic said...

I've never been into much punk/hardcore. I found Napalm Death via metal rather than punk. But, once in a while I will attempt to try it out. I usually find something to admire but rarely do I stick around for long. It's usually the most metalized iterations which keep my interest (Refused, Converge, Flipper, etc.). So, I bought Damaged as a gateway. I admired some of the catchy songwriting but never really gave it much attention. The other night, after reading this post, I gave it a spin... loud and gained an appreciation for the much heralded Ginn's noisy guitar work. I'm pretty sure I would be interested in hearing some of his later day guitar work (especially since it influenced Deadguy and Kiss it Goodbye). Would you mind dropping a record recommendation for some of Ginn's "later masterworks"? Thanks in advance.

GrindNinja said...

The Rolling Stones are the second worst band of all time, the beatles wrote songs for them too so if you 'love the stones' how can you hate the beatles? I hate early beatles but love anything after revolver. I guess I have a soft spot for them due to being a song writer and also sound engineer. Recording albums like Sgt Peppers on the equipment they had back then? Amazing.

U2 are my most hated band of all time, bono is the biggest fuck head on earth, closely followed by the edge. Anyone who likes U2 should be castrated and shot directly into the sun.

The Misfits are classic, as for the hot topic comment, don't shop there and you won't have that problem.

Andrew Childers said...

miskatonic: pretty much slip it in/loose nut/in my head are the holy trinity for me.

grindninja: i blame the beatles for everything lame in rock. they were a pointless bubble gum band at first then they got all bullshit arty and everyone had to get all fucking conceptual. the stones were pretty much sleazy rock from day one and never tried to stray from that (some alter disco and psych rock failures aside).

PatrickDM said...

black flag is very influential to me. mainly bc of greg ginns guitar work in the later. slip it in is prob my favorite album. it's the instrumental tracks that have stuck with me when i think of black flag. songs like "I Won't Stick Any of You Unless and Until I Can Stick All of You" and "obliteration" are why i love the guitar work. also check out the ep process of weeding out which is instrumental..more jazz/punk/noise

i also think the beatles, pantera, rolling stones suck.
nasum is over rated...good but dont see the fuss

Flesh Monolith said...

I agree, I could never like Venom and it's been my cross to bear.

Most of these artists have a point in my childhood/adolscents (Zepplin, The Exploited, Misfits, Pantera, Death.

That said I still love the Misfits and would fight on that principal. Along with that, Decide's s/t was one of the first DM albums I heard and I'll still stand by my 14 year old self "this album fucking kicks ass."

Like wet nightmare, I think Nasum is a really good band, that's it.

Svvan Ronson said...

I can't think of anything on that list I necessarily don't like. . . .though I will say, I'm not really into pre-Vulgar Pantera and I never got into Venom.

Oh, and Eaten Back to Life is overrated.