By Kevin Stewart-Panko
The first and most obvious question you’re probably asking yourself after seeing that Hellbound is reviewing the Fat Wreck re-issues of the first five albums by these Goleta, California’s melodi-punk heroes is whether or not the version we’re reviewing here is the box-set edition or simply the individual releases reviewed as a collective. I believe what Grand Wizard Palmerston has provided here are the individual releases, seeing as they are strewn across my desk and there’s no box provided that might maintain any amount of order in the slightest… [Well, that is what Fat Wreck sent – don’t ask me! – Tha Ed] Oh, that’s not what you would’ve asked? What’s that? Your question would have been more like, “What the hell is that punk rock shit doing on this metal website?” To which I would respond, “If Alcest, Amasoeurs, Lantlos or any of that sit-down-to-pee-shoegaze-rock-disguised-as-black-metal-because-some-guy-who-used-to-be-in-a-black-metal-band-plays-it has been anywhere near your stereo, you don’t have nary a leg to stand on. But enough with the justification, there’s a lot of punk rock that’s ten times as vital, fast and heavy than a lot of metal – unless you’re singling out the Double Plaidinum album, that shit’s just on the wrong side of mediocre – and if there’s a band that deftly straddles that divide, it’s these jokers.
A few seconds into their 1992 debut, Duh and the song “Tragic Vision” you can hear it – these dudes love their Slayer. And Black Sabbath. And Metallica. They maybe playing melodic hardcore/punk along the lines of Strung Out, Bad Religion et al, but back in the day, they threw the fucking tri-tone around like it was going out of style, except they did within the context of riffs drizzled in sugary melodies, ridiculous driving tempos, ascending/descending guitar dueling and “ooh-ahh” backing vocals. Sure, the band may have succumbed to the ravages of time, age, maturity and everything that comes with touring 200+ days a year over the course of the six years these five albums were written and recorded. Their sound became smoothed out and everything post-Hoss came across as tired, but these re-issues are testaments to the snotty-ness of Duh’s “Beer Goggles,” Trashed’s “Lazy” and Hoss’ “Violins.” And let’s not forget their audacity in fucking with sacred cows like “Bad Moon Rising,” “Brown Eyed Girl” and the Bonanza theme. Good shit!
If you’re still with me and haven’t punched your computer screen in disgust, each of these albums comes packaged in gatefold digi-packs complete with a fuckload of bonus tracks (demos, alternate mixes, acoustic versions and rearranged, early versions), big ol’ photo fold outs and recollections in the liner notes from various members. These re-issues are examples of the sort of quality and value-adds that all others who are going to foist their back catalogues onto the public should strive for regardless of genre. Ok, I’m going to go listen to Svarti Loghin…
(Fat Wreck Chords)