By Jono Coote
September 5, 2013
Bl’ast! is a band well known to anyone with any interest in ’80s hardcore and skateboarding. Coming out of Santa Cruz they were intrinsically intertwined with the two scenes, with guitarist Mike Neider working for Santa Cruz skateboards throughout the band’s existence (and being at least partially to thank for the incredible, SST-heavy soundtracks which came with the companies later skate videos). Their chugging wall of noise was, and still is, the perfect accompaniment to the sound of trucks barking against pool coping, and as such the discovery of some ‘lost’ demo tapes has had plenty of skaters and hardcore kids eager to hear what has risen from the murky depths. The album Blood! is basically a different set of recordings of the songs which appeared on their first SST release, It’s In My Blood, although with ‘Look Into Myself’ replaced with ‘Your Eyes’. However, it still stands up on its own and is definitely worth getting hold of if you’re a fan of the band. Part of what makes this record so good is the production quality, especially as the songs were restored from tapes which were apparently in a fair state of deterioration. Dave Grohl’s past may have been eclipsed slightly by his place at the forefront of the grunge movement and subsequent prolific musical output, but his history within the hardcore scene has meant that the job of restoring and remastering was placed in fairly safe hands.
If you have never heard the band or original album before, it is a masterpiece of metal influenced hardcore in which chugging metallic riffs are broken up by unexpected changes in tempo which give lie to the musical talent within the group and keep the listener guessing. A maelstrom of distorted bass lines, atonal guitar sounds and hoarsely shouted vocals, which focuses more on grooves than melody, it’s closest influence is Rollins-era Black Flag but the band never sound like a rip-off or covers act. Rather, from the opening one-note bass intro to ‘Only Time Will Tell’, joined eventually by a guitar lick straight out of an ’80s slasher film and an oddly syncopated drum beat, we are treated to an album which perfectly captures the articulation of rage which, to many people, was the defining feature of hardcore music. If you know the band’s output you will know that it won’t be an easy listen, but then it isn’t meant to be. Once your ears are acclimatised then you can’t avoid being awestruck by the sheer dark fury behind the songs within, from the primal scream at the beginning of ‘Ssshhh’, to the demented assault of ‘Tomorrow’, and the sludgy beat of ‘It’s In My Blood’. If you like your music heavy and dripping with sheer fucking intensity, this will be right up your street. The release has been surrounded by talks of at least one reunion tour, and if the songs contained within are anything to go by those shows would be beyond savage… I’m definitely keeping my fingers crossed.
Blood is out now and available from amazon here.