Review Summary: Life is cold, and it reaches inside.
Few bands are as straightforward both musically and lyrically as early Black Flag, especially on their debut full length, Damaged, the tale of a miserable man in a miserable city. The guitar work is sloppy and ferocious, the drums are fast paced and forceful, and the vocals are angry and impassioned. Now, all of this sounds like the elements to create a perfect hardcore punk record, and they really are, but there’s one thing that is simply the cherry on top for this album, and that is the lyrics. Henry Rollins is extremely sincere and candid with what he says, with absolutely no pretense.
“I don't even care about self-destruction anymore
What's the use?
I just sit at home alone
Cold fingers, gold fingers, in a cold sweat
And then I remember
I remember a day
We'd go for a ride in the country
And you'd say.. Sing it boy! Do it again Do it again Yes sir! Yes sir! Yes sir! Yes sir oh yes sir yes sir yes”
This is just one example of a verse from the closer on this album Damaged I, a song filled with sludgy and bone-crushing riffs, and at times finds Henry just screaming like a maniac. The lyrics remain superb and tragic throughout the entire album, especially on the tracks Thirsty and Miserable, Damaged II, What I See, and of course the punk classic, Rise Above.
Musically this album is uncompromising, with distorted and fuzzy guitar tone just blasting into your ears, and sometimes they incorporate a catchy bass line, like on the songs Six Pack and TV Party. The drums are always being loudly banged, matching the desperation and rage found in Henry Rollins’ voice and lyrics.
The album all comes to a climax with the insane closer Damaged I. This climactic song embodies all the negative feelings that you will ever come across in your life, all piled on top of each other. In this song Henry screams as if he is being tortured. You know something is about to go down when you hear, “My name’s Henry, and you’re with me now,” which is a perfect introduction to this climax.
Damaged is an album about a life of pain, and not an album to listen to whenever you’re in a good mood. Everything in this album is abrasive and nasty, just like life. I highly recommend this album to anyone who has ever felt frustrated or confused, as this album is the sonic creation of frustration and confusion.
“No one comes in, stay out!”