12 Songs, 47 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

The final Black Flag studio album shows just how far the band had come. Their Southern California hardcore punk roots had practically vanished while the band’s interest in tough metallic walls of guitar riffs and free-jazz guitar solos made them a challenging listen for all concerned. The guitar lines of “Paralyzed” sound like actual taunts as they skirt singer Henry Rollins’ tortured howls. “The Crazy Girl” follows with further twisted riffage and bizarre vocal lines that veer between mumbled, spoken passages and impassioned screams. “Black Love” sounds like an inverted scale gone awry, “White Hot” sounds like what Black Flag would envision as a radio hit. The original album featured just nine cuts, but subsequent editions have included the I Can See You EP, stretching the total number to twelve cuts. The album’s highlight remains “Drinking and Driving,” a sarcastic anthem to people who get behind the wheel drunk and kill. It came as a great surprise that this was the group’s final album, as all the pieces were clearly locked into their own peculiar groove.

EDITORS’ NOTES

The final Black Flag studio album shows just how far the band had come. Their Southern California hardcore punk roots had practically vanished while the band’s interest in tough metallic walls of guitar riffs and free-jazz guitar solos made them a challenging listen for all concerned. The guitar lines of “Paralyzed” sound like actual taunts as they skirt singer Henry Rollins’ tortured howls. “The Crazy Girl” follows with further twisted riffage and bizarre vocal lines that veer between mumbled, spoken passages and impassioned screams. “Black Love” sounds like an inverted scale gone awry, “White Hot” sounds like what Black Flag would envision as a radio hit. The original album featured just nine cuts, but subsequent editions have included the I Can See You EP, stretching the total number to twelve cuts. The album’s highlight remains “Drinking and Driving,” a sarcastic anthem to people who get behind the wheel drunk and kill. It came as a great surprise that this was the group’s final album, as all the pieces were clearly locked into their own peculiar groove.

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Ratings and Reviews

4.0 out of 5
31 Ratings

31 Ratings

zrock50 ,

the only flag you need to fly

I've listened to this album at least 100 times and it never gets old. Probably because it reminds me of my depressing high school life... drunk dialing the hot guy from English class, binge drinking and writing bad, bad poetry. If you can sit there and listen to "White Hot" and not want to rip your heart out you were obviously either the gay drama kid or the girl who listened to New Kids. Sometimes I sit at work, in my little grey cubicle surrounded by other little grey cublicles, and listen to "In My Head" over and over and over and over...

BMCN1288 ,

Almost unlistenable

Don't get me wrong, Black Flag is easily one of my favorite bands. But this album is almost unlistenable. Henry Rollins speaks in spooky voices through some haunted house echo effect as Greg Ginn noodles aimlessly up and down the fretboard. There's almost no energy to it, and you can tell that creatively the band had hit a brick wall by this point. It's hard to tell where the songs are going half the time, which wouldn't be a bad thing except they don't end up going anywhere. My recommendation: for the biggest Black Flag fans who need the whole catalog ONLY. If not, buy Damaged, Slip It In, Loose Nut, or My War.

sremefnfat ,

Flag didn't exactly go out with a bang . . .

Don't get me wrong; I like ALL the various phases of Black Flag, and I enjoy their long, slow sludgy stuff almost as much as their short, fast, brutal work. And you have to admit, "In My Head" took the concepts first laid out in "My War" and "Loose Nut" and even "Slip It In" to their logical extension. However, the end result is simply not particularly good. By now Flag had achieved almost complete separation between the vocals and the music that was laid out literally (with spoken word tracks accompanying instrumentals) in "Family Man". The consequence is that there doesn't appear to be much fusion between the lyrics/vocals and the music. Most songs come off sounding like ad libbed rantings of Henry Rollins placed over repetitive guitar progressions that sound more like finger practicing exercises. Gone is the fierce, raging guitar of "Slip It In" or even "Loose Nut", and in its place is a series of repeating elements that while technically proficient lack any real emotion or power. Two exceptions: "Drinking and Driving" and "Society's Tease", but here too the vibe is more the technical proficiency of metal and has only traces of the rage Black Flag was known for. This isn't a BAD album, just pretty boring, and for Black Flag, that's pretty damning criticism indeed.

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