Review Summary: Another bout in Hell.
There’s something extremely intense about Rollins Band’s first two albums, the same something that isn’t quite as prominent after Hard Volume
. Sure, even at its most superficial level, every one of Rollins albums have that broiling rage – and a really honest, cut the BS, one at that – but if you listen to anything after this LP it just seems to lack the truly intense, nihilistic cloud which engulfs and embodies these first two offerings. For those unaccustomed to Henry Rollins, even a laymen will probably know him for being a pretty intense person on the stage; but for those a little more familiar with his antics, you’ll know him for his acute sense of cynicism – especially in his earlier days. And with that kind of hatred, it could eat a man alive. Luckily for him, he’s channelled it through his music: the results of his earlier works are timeless, experimental hardcore records that do their best to work as therapy sessions.
So, after Rollins Band’s ferocious debut, they come back just as hard with their sophomore return in the form of 1989’s Hard Volume
. As with Life Time
, it’s not far removed from what that album offers; the first half of the LP is a collection of more conventional tracks: the likes of album opener “Hard” and “What Have I Got” is a mesh of hard-swinging metal with bluesy undertones and plenty of moments in-between for the groove to stop and breath, the effect presents the songs as bulldozing juggernauts, offering much more than just breakneck speed; this is all matched by Henry’s mesmerizing performances of harsh shouts and monologue talking which work synergistically with the music behind him to assault the listener. However, like its predecessor, it’s when the LP shifts into the latter half of the record, morphing into a monster of despondent jams that accurately capture Henry’s untameable rage: the music takes on a much more minimalistic position to allow Rollins to vent – and vent he does exceptionally well here: the spastic, vocal-chord shredding screams and shrieks on the likes of “Turned Inside Out” and “Love Song” make him sound like he’s having an internal battle with his demons and losing, while further highlights come from “Joy Riding with Frank” which showcases the musical proficiency in the band, weighing in at a whopping 32 minutes, this song is a journey that lets every member prove his worth in the band – and surprisingly doesn’t drag its heels all that much in the timeframe.
Overall, this is a perfect successor to Life Time
, it has all the qualities of the former and even amps it up a couple of notches in places. The raw production on these first two records have always worked harmoniously with the band, and best represent what these guys are all about. There’s still a lot of excellent moments to be had with any one of Rollins Band’s LPs after this, but you’ll be hearing them at their most vulnerable and animalistic here.
SPECIAL EDITION: N/A