I Want to Kill You b/w Monster
November 25th, 2011
It would be hard to approach the subject of Black Face without first discussing the history of the individuals that comprise the band. The legacy of the players involved and their impact on hardcore and heavy music in general is undeniable - Chuck Dukowski, founding member of Black Flag, founder of SST records, and more; Eugene Robinson, founding member of Oxbow, Whipping Boy, author, professional journalist and fighter; Tom Dobrov, original drummer for Oxbow and The Stiffs; and relative newcomer Milo Gonzalez of contemporary rabble rousers Insects vs. Robots, and The Chuck Dukowski Sextet. Though the stature of all involved is considerable, it is Chuck's tenure in Black Flag and his contributions to the song writing process thereof that relate most directly to the form and content of Black Face itself.
Having been a crucial component of what is arguably the most vital period of Black Flag's existence (from inception, to the classic Damaged album, and up through the prototypical noise-metal landmark My War for which he penned the title track), Chuck is a veritable forefather in the history of American hardcore. Though responsible for many key tracks in their catalog, the aforementioned "My War", along with classics like "Spraypaint", "What I See", and "Padded Cell"; there is an additional angle of Chuck's time in Black Flag which relates directly to the musical content of Black Face. Aside from tunes written for and recorded by Black Flag, Dukowski also wrote a number of songs during the same era which never made it to tape. These songs have since lingered on in notebooks and memory waiting for the right vehicle to give them form - and now 20+ years later they have finally been brought to life with the requisite energy and gut punching emotion that drove home the finely honed point of early Black Flag.
As an introduction to the band the lead off track on the debut single, "I Want to Kill You" serves as an appropriately violent first round. Comprised of cascading shards of angular guitars, stuttering figures of bass/drum interplay, topped off with Robinson's insistently murderous diatribe, the track feels at once vintage and refreshingly present. Though many have imitated this approach to songcraft in the decades since it first ripped forth from the ether, it's clear from the first dour notes of the song that none have surpassed the progenitors in their singular intensity. Following the A side's introductory battery is a sprawling beast aptly titled "Monster", a potentially polarizing track not unlike Black Flag's early forays into the realms of abstract and obtuse psychedelic punk. Though more subdued in pace and tone, the track proves no less menacing than its predecessor - a not-so-welcoming doorway into a dimly lit world of treachery and unrelenting pain. There is no overtly obvious catharsis in these tracks, no glorious climax, only sustained tension and the promise of greater horrors waiting at every further turn into the darkness. If this is a re-beginning for Dukowski and co, it sounds like a grisly end for the rest of us.
TOM DOBROV: drums
CHUCK DUKOWSKI: bass
MILO GONZALEZ: guitar
EUGENE S. ROBINSON: voice
2000 pcs on Black, Grey, White, and Mystery colored vinyl