Review Summary: One of punk’s quintessential releases, full of youthful angst.
Although some may not enjoy the short lived group known as Minor Threat, it is nearly impossible to deny them of their influence. Their approach to recording, writing, performing, and promoting paved the way for thousands of punk bands to come after their breakup in 1983. The group also furthered and created many ideals and movements, such as strengthening the presence of D.I.Y. in hardcore punk and inadvertently started the Straight Edge movement, which involves abstinence from drugs and sex. So, in a copious amount of ways, the ragtag group shook the very ground of the punk scene and melded the shape of the genre in their own image, whether or not it was intentional. A coalition of this magnitude must be backed up by some impressive releases, even if the group was together for a small amount of time. Two of these were ambitious EPs, named Minor Threat
and In My Eyes
, and they served as a launchpad into infamy and a basis for their acclaim.
Later compiled into a release titled First Two Seven Inches
, these two forays into hardcore punk gained a large amount of traction, as they showcased an astonishingly youthful spirit. While these songs were quite simple in their writing, Minor Threat used their homemade aesthetic and their sloppy style to make vigorous and sonically engaging noise. The intriguing uses of production added to the vibrancy of the releases, shown on tracks like “Steppin’ Stone” and “12XU.” The cacophony puts an emphasis on the aggressive performances, with more importance being placed on the abrasively frayed tone and violent hooks, rather than having focus on elaborate compositions. After all, why attempt to add a bark when the bite is so vicious" The band takes this rhetorical question and uses it as their motto and their life blood. This mantra is also reflected in the lyrics, which are angry depictions of what the band sees as society’s and humanity’s flaws, like on songs like “Small Man, Big Mouth” and “Bottled Violence.” At their worst, however, these lines can come off as self-righteous, like on “Out of Step - With the World,” or extremely questionable, like on the racially themed “Guilty of Being White,” the latter track seeming ambivalent towards the hardships of minority groups. These lyrical low points aren’t prevalent, but are still noticeable.
Even with lyrics that are questionable in places and an extreme rawness in sound, Minor Threat’s introduction to the world hits the listener from beginning to end with ingeniously heavy punk grooves. The flaws these two EPs contain are cascaded by some of the early 80’s most infectious punk jams. In addition to the quality of the output on these releases, Minor Threat also benefits from aging better than some of their contemporaries and the sheer size of their influence. The approach to low fidelity recording, vehement inflections, sloppy playing, and all around knife-like sound can be heard all throughout hardcore punk. Unfortunately, hindsight is 20/20 in this instance, as this was also somewhat of a landmark release in pretentious lyricism and the birthplace of the straight edge movement, which has become associated with the lowest of punk fans, even by the band itself. Regardless, whatever gripes one could have with aspects of this record and what its caused are easily overshadowed by its importance and its outstanding music