Review Summary: "In On The Kill Taker" is a fantastic album and one of Fugazi's best but it doesn't come without its fair share of flaws.
“In On The Kill Taker" was the album that gave me my first listen to the band Fugazi. Maybe because of this fact I consider it the most accessible, but the band has almost completely distanced themselves from their early hardcore beginnings on this album. In an age when Nirvana was preaching the '80s style of alternative rock to the world, Fugazi reigned as kings of the underground. This album was Fugazi's first Billboard charter and was probably the key to their increasing popularity. Where "Steady Diet of Nothing" showed that Mackaye and his group of D.C. alums could certainly provoke new emotions from the dead genre of hardcore, "In On The Kill Taker" was all about the experimental even if that meant including heavily "poppy" melodies throughout their music. This album marked a change for Fugazi as they adopted even more noise to help full their anguish and aggression, and in doing so, released one of their finest records.
Part of this album’s beauty is the track list. It begins with the upbeat number "Facet Squared" which is almost pop-punkish in its delivery. Essentially the tracking of the album begins it with the lightest material and by the end you're cast into Guy's own torments with the quiet brooding "Last Chance For A Slow Dance". The middle of the album is almost completely dedicated to the noise experimental side of Fugazi, especially the centerpiece and half-instrumental "23 Beats Off," a soundscape of harsh noise that supposedly reflects the deterioration of a relationship. One of my personal favorite Fugazi tracks found on "In On The Kill Taker" is "Rend It". With Guy’s brilliant performance, lyrically and vocally, walls of sound encapsulate his pleas of "Why don't you come to my house? Why don't you drag me right out?". It is truly one of the most beautiful yet aggressive songs in Fugazi's vast library.
While "In On The Kill Taker" probably holds the record for the most infectious Fugazi tunes, it also has some bland ones such as "Smallpox Champion" which almost seems by-the-book Fugazi. It's not bad in itself, but when its book ended by the full unleashed fury of "Rend It" and the brooding and dynamic "Returning The Screw," it just seems flat in comparison.
Fugazi certainly made their finest album to date at the time of "In On The Kill Taker" they still had not reached perfection. While "In On The Kill Taker" is a beautiful and very varying experience, some of the moments on the album seem a little too textbook of the band and also some of them drag on a little too far ("Sweet and Low's" subdued feeling kind of makes the closer of the album drag). Still, the band certainly has a very important and great record with this release, and compared to many other bands, it'd be a near classic. But with a band with Fugazi’s capabilities, it is in turn left as just a great solid release with its decent share of flaws.