Album Review: OFF! - OFF!

Filed under: Reviews

At 56-years old, Keith Morris has dedicated the majority of his life to hardcore punk. He was the leader of Circle Jerks for three decades and fronted Black Flag for Nervous Breakdown. When his term with one band ended, he fought tooth-and-nail to keep a microphone in-hand. In 2009, when Circle Jerks neared their third hiatus, Morris and Burning Brides' Dimitri Coats formed OFF! For super-group status, Redd Kross' Steven Shane McDonald and Rocket from the Crypt's Mario Rubalcaba were recruited.

The group's flagship compilation, First Four EPs, was an infuriated and impressive introduction. It was like Morris released thirty years of rage in a mere seventeen minutes. As if the stars hadn't aligned enough, critics and punks alike took notice. Despite their praise and expanded fan-base, OFF! haven't changed sonically in the past two years. However, their self-titled second album is a suitable successor to their 2010 debut.

At sixteen tracks with a sixteen minute run-time, OFF! do not fool around. Little of the album is dedicated to indulgence. Even the introductory feedback on opening track "Wiped Out" feels rushed. Coats manages to shred his guitar solos in all of ten seconds. McDonald and Rubalcaba keep time with ease and allow the songwriters to channel their anger with abandon.

Morris may have matured since 1980's Group Sex but he has not calmed down. When "King Kong Brigade" surfaced in March, it was abundantly clear that the outrage hadn't subsided. "I want to club you like a baby seal, staple your scalp to my steering wheel," shouts Morris. Bitterness is among the album's most prominent themes. Whether it's the "hardcore karaoke retirement home" or the "king of this scene" being called out, Morris still has an axe to grind. Fortunately, his voice hasn't aged a bit. He rips into "Borrow and Bomb" with distorted shouts and keeps frantic pace over "Jet Black Girls". Morris is clearly in control with consistent aggression.

Much of OFF! recalls First Four EPs. However, criticizing a hardcore punk album of being repetitive is like complaining that the sun is bright. If you don't look into it too much, the obvious won't glare your eyes. Likewise, OFF! appear to have only one mode. These songs could have easily been a sixteen minute variation on the same theme. There's also little room to breathe and barely any slowing down. OFF! have proven to be a band constantly doing the same thing.

It is great to hear these four come together again, but there are few signs of growth. Granted, they have doubled their setlist time. However, it's doubtful OFF! can perform the same trick a third time without receiving some criticism. Perhaps the most punk rock thing to do at this point is push forward. Morris has certainly done it in the past. God knows he should be fearless by now.

As a sophomore effort, OFF! is more fuel to the fire. It's sixteen more minutes of fast-paced in-your-face hardcore punk from one of its founding fathers. Even if there is nothing new here, it's strong enough to stand proudly next to its predecessor.

Tags: OFF!, VICE Records, Keith Morris, Dimitri Coats, Black Flag, Circle Jerks, Redd Kross, Rocket from the Crypt, Hot Snakes, Punk

Related Posts

Comments Posted ()

SBM on Social Media on Facebook on Twitter on Instagram on YouTube