Black Flag - Damaged review


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Band: Black Flag
Album: Damaged
Release date: December 1981

01. Rise Above
02. Spray Paint
03. Six Pack
04. What I See
05. TV Party
06. Thirsty And Miserable
07. Police Story
08. Gimmie Gimmie Gimmie
09. Depression
10. Room 13
11. Damaged II
12. No More
13. Padded Cell
14. Life Of Pain
15. Damaged I

The preeminent hardcore band, regardless of what came afterwards it cannot take away from what Damaged did to the musicial landscape. Building on what the Morris and Reyes-led line ups had achieved, Damaged provides a full album worth of classic tracks as the band moved on from EPs.

Focusing on pure rage and anger, Damaged is a crash course in catharsis for anyone pissed at the world; some say it makes the band one dimensional, but given you'll be bouncing off all four walls while listening to this record, it feels pretty damn expansive. If you want or need something to turn your disdain into distortion, then Black Flag have you covered.

From the eternal call to arms "Rise Above" to the tortured suffering of "Depression" and "Padded Cell", through odes to boredom ala "TV Party" or "Gimmie Gimmie Gimmie", Damaged certainly casts a wide net topically. Damaged is an experience in the dark side of the mind;, if any band wants to put true angst in their work then they should consult this album on how to do it.

Damaged is an album that needs to be heard in full; don't bother trying to pick out individual tracks, it's all top quality and will have you wanting more with every passing track. The only time you'll feel yourself flagging is when you wear yourself out from the flailing about you will be doing while listening to this. To call it unrelenting is to undersell it; like a bull possessed, this album just storms out of the gates and never looks back at the trail of destruction it leaves in its wake.

While yes, the musicianship is rough around the edges, it is so in a way that adds to the charm of the music rather than detracts. Ginn and Candena may hit the odd wrong note or not sound pitch perfect, but it only adds to the unhinged nature of the music. It's played loose but it's far from sloppy; rather than focus on precision strikes, the guitarists revel in noise and distortion. Dukowski is all over the album owing to the chaotic nature of the songs, this isn't a bad thing as you find yourself hearing little wrinkles here and there as you try following him around. Rollins epitomizes the nature of the music; fans may question if he was the worst front man for the band, but at the very least, he is the perfect man for Damaged. Taking cues from punk bands of old like the Sex Pistols, Rollins knows that attitude and emotion are just as captivating as musically correct singing.

The production has its pros and one hell of a con. It's rough and ready in an endearing way, with the songs having a gritty feel that adds to the despairing primal rage that flows through each of the tracks. The con on the other hand is that the mix is far too low; it sounds like I have to hear around a wall within my earphones and meet the band halfway. If this album was ever remixed or remastered, then this would be the only thing I would change. While it is not an album killer, it is frustrating at the minimum.

There is a reason Black Flag is a band cited as a huge influence by swathes of bands; alongside the classic EPs, Damaged plays a big part of the reason why. Listen and love it.

Rating breakdown
Performance: 9
Songwriting: 9
Originality: 8
Production: 6

Written by omne metallum | 23.06.2020



Comments: 2   Visited by: 7 users
23.06.2020 - 12:15
This is an album I'm always afraid to order a physical version of, because if something happens to it, I cannot complain that it's damaged.
- I've dreamt of that for years.
- Dying?
- Running.

2020 goodies
23.06.2020 - 12:16
Also more Black Flag reviews please
- I've dreamt of that for years.
- Dying?
- Running.

2020 goodies

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