Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Black Flag - My War

This month marks the thirtieth anniversary of My War, the second full length studio album from the American hardcore punk band Black Flag. Hailing from Southern California, the group consisted of Henry Rollins (vocals), Greg Ginn (guitar), Dale Nixon (bass), and Bill Stevenson (drums).

Side one opens with the title track. "My War" builds slowly, like a lit fuse working its way to a powder keg, before exploding. The lyrics focus a breakdown after a betrayal by a friend.

"Can't Decide" wrestles with indecision; even the arrangement has varying guitar layers. The percussion forms the only consistent element of the track.

I find the change ups of rhythm on "Beat My Head Against the Wall" work well. They really make for an interesting listening experience.

"I Love You" shows how one can get so caught up in passion that they can be pushed over the edge.

"Forever Time" barrels forward at a relentless pace, much like time itself does.

"The Swinging Man" closes the side with another equally high energy punk number. It is full of anger, attitude and angst.

Side two begins with "Nothing Left Inside", the first of a side full of longer tracks (each one clocks in at over six minutes). Also, in contrast to the first half, this one has a much slower pacing to it. It seethes with angry loneliness.

"Three Nights" is my least favorite track on the album; I just could not get any sort of connection to it.

"Scream" wraps things up in a primal fashion. I like the methodic opening and the echoing effects on the screams.

I can honestly say that this was my first listen to a complete Black Flag album. I found My War to be an interesting experience, one I likely would have not sought out on my own normally. I do not recall having any friends back in the 80's who ever mentioned to me that they listened to the band. I do appreciate the musicianship of the performances and was thankful that they kept the feedback to a minimal level on most of the tracks.

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