Review Summary: 5 minutes of raw, unadulterated punk rock.
In just 5 minutes, Black Flag, the California hardcore punk group, was able to lay down the groundwork for not only the rest of their career, but for the entire hardcore punk and DIY scene. In their first career release, Nervous Breakdown [EP], the guitar was less than technical and often basic as well as singing that sounded like a drunken man; however, this is what made Black Flag so great. Even with the simplicities and lack of technical prowess, Black Flag showed intense and raw emotion which made their first release a masterpiece.
The EP begins with the title track “Nervous Breakdown,” which showcases everything that the listener is going to get from them for the rest of the EP: raw and furious guitar riffs from Greg Ginn and roaring, angry vocals from lead singer Keith Morris. “I’m about to have a nervous breakdown, my head really hurts. If I don’t find a way out of here, I’m gonna go berserk ‘cus I’m crazy and I’m hurt.” These angry, paranoid lyrics from the title track are exactly what is shown in each song on this EP.
Everything on this EP is raw and angry. In “I’ve Had It” Morris yells “I’m going to explode, I’ve had it!” The guitar roars along with him until Morris’ seemingly delusional laugh to end the song. The song is under 90 seconds, but no time is wasted in those. Each second is stuffed with as much raw emotion as possible. Tracks “Fix Me” and “Wasted” are even shorter, both being under a minute.
In these 5 minutes, Black Flag was able to do something that most bands only dream of: pack raw emotion without wasting a second. With only their first release, Black Flag exploded on the scene with this masterpiece of an EP. Their later releases, while not as raw, angry or all around great as Nervous Breakdown, would give them the role as the band to follow for aspiring hardcore punk bands as well as DIY bands. This EP is not only a masterpiece musically, but it set the groundwork for every punk band since.