The First Four EPs saw, punk supergroup, OFF! come out with a bang. The songs were hard, fast, and over before you could get your mind around them. A fantastic throwback to the likes of Black Flag (of whom Keith Morris was the original vocalist) and The Minutemen, this release was unexpected and surprisingly fresh sounding. Their debut full length continues where those EPs left off. We get sixteen songs in as many minutes, all of them that little bit lacking.
Though it definitely contains all of the original hardcore punk conventions, there’s a distinctly contemporary sound to each track. Part of this comes down to certain instrumental differences – the intro of ‘King Kong Brigade’ certainly wouldn’t be at home on a typical 80’s hardcore record – and part of this comes down to the production. It’s clear that the end goal was to make the record sound more ‘raw’ and underproduced. However, this is rarely subtle and I often found myself thinking more about the production of a particular song than the song itself. That’s saying a lot when the majority of the tracks are less than a minute long.
That being said, I have very little else against this record. I mean, the lyrics can get sketchy at times and it’s often off-putting how ‘clean’ Keith’s vocals are compared to the rest of the track (like I said, the production is less than impressive), but I don’t regret taking the sixteen minutes out of my day to check this out. It just feels like they tried too hard to recreate that iconic 80’s hardcore sound.
If you’re a fan of old school hardcore punk, you could certainly pick worse when it comes to checking out a new band. Just be mindful of the fact that, despite the people involved, this isn’t going to sound the same as all those older bands you love.