Review Summary: Keith Morris is back, and he's got a bigger, badder attitude
For those who recall the days of 80s hardcore political punk, Keith Morris has an album for you. For those who don't, here's your wakeup call. The former Black Flag and Circle Jerks frontman presents his first official album with his new band Off!, and it sounds like he's picked up right where he left off.
This music is without pretension. It doesn't try to do anything new, and it doesn't sound like he's evolved much. But there was a time when this type of music was part of a flourishing scene. Now, the greatest revelation Off! makes to today's audience might just be how soft our music has gotten.
Morris and Off! dive bomb through 16 tracks in a little over 17 minutes. Its defining characteristic is its dirty, clunking, raw hardcore guitar sound, which support Morris's visceral slurred vocals. Compared to the band's previous offering, First Four EPs, the vocals are much more fuzzy and distorted. As a result, the music sounds more threatening and foreboding, but it makes near impossible to make out what he's saying most of the time. In a genre where 90 percent of the focus is on the message, this is a pretty big deal.
The album kicks off on a righteous tear with "Wiped Out," which is a sure highlight. "I Got News For You" is a kerosene soaked rant against Morris's former bandmates, while "Elimination" focuses on sleazy executives who shape society's rules to fit themselves and score big payoffs.
"Borrow and Bomb" may be the most frenetic track on disc, as Morris screams that he wants to "set fire to your lawn as you borrow and bomb!"
The most appealing facet of this record is that it is hardcore distilled down its simplest and most primal form. These days, it seems like there are too many bands who try to dress it up or combine it with other elements. Understandably the genre has to evolve, but I usually can't dig the way they do it. Off! may simply be living off our nostalgia, but I tend to prefer the stripped down, simple sound of old school punk. If you feel the same, you'll surely appreciate this record.