Better than Black Flag? You better believe it.
Scott Martin | New Jersey | 06/04/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Let's not beat about the bush here : this is the greatest hardcore record you'll ever hear. I'm serious. We can go back to early Minor Threat, "roir sessions" by Bad Brains, "first 4 years", "damaged", "my war" and "slip it in" by Black Flag, "get it away" by S.S.D, the classic 7"s by Negative Approach, Siege and Deep Wound, "metal circus" and "zen arcade" by Husker Du, everything by Infest!, the 90's classic releases by the likes of Born Again$t, Rorschach and No Comment and then go right up to "jane doe" by Converge. It doesn't matter one bit. This is better than all of them and any other hardcore record you wish to mention. Sure, there have been harder, faster and more brutal bands and records but noone else has ever quite captured the intensity of hardcore, that's so hard to accurately describe without resorting to the usual cliches of "raw power" and "vein popping aggression", so astonishingly as Bl'ast! on this, their debut album.
Bl'ast! were that rare beast : a deriative group actually better than the the group they based their sound on (that's Black Flag, dummy). They're most comparable with Black Flag circa the first side of "my war" but there's something about this album that sets it apart from the 'Flag. Firstly, there's the music which is more of a straightfoward hardcore sound but still dark, heavy and dissonant. Secondly, there's the excellent musicianship by all involved; the searing, eviscerating guitar work of Mike Neider and Steve Stevenson sprawling all over Dave Cooper's rumbling bass and Bill Torgerson's military styled, almost motorik at times, drumming. Thirdly, there's vocalist Clifford Dinsmore, without shadow-of-a-doubt one of the greatest hardcore frontmen there's ever been, who was so in tune with his band his raspy voice almost acts as a instrument. Listen to "time to think", "break it down" and the album closer "nightmare" and you'll see exactly what i mean. While his lyrics are the standard us-against-the-world and Reagan-era cold war paranoia that you'd associate with 80s hardcore, their confessional tone adds an extra dimension to them and they come across as expressive and emotional as oppossed to naive teen-angst sloganeering. Finally, there's the awesome production on here, done by the band themselves, which manages to be be so raw and dirty as to capture the dense fury the band projected but clear enough to accentuate each instrument and every little nuance of the music, of which there are many. Once this album gets inside your head it will never leave. I still play it at least 3 times a week.
I'm glad to see that there are a few people other than myself and Ebullition/Heartattack head-honcho Kent Mcclard, who once said Bl'ast! are the best hardcore band he's ever seen live, that are still fans of this mighty group as they seem to be a long forgotten band, even by the majority of hardcore fans. Respect to the 3 gentlemen, especially D.K Malone, who wrote the previous 3 excellent reviews.
The other two Bl'ast! album's are excellent but much like their two main reference points, Black Flag and Corrosion Of Conformity, they progressed into a more metallic sound that i'd pinpoint as being a big influence on someone like Rorschach. It's worth noting here that the metal influence in their music was infused far more successfully on those two albums than either of the last two Black Flag albums.
Bottom line : if you like hardcore you simply have to own this album. Even if you disagree with my suggestion that it's the greatest hardcore album ever made you'll still consider it a classic and as good as anything the genre has had to offer."
THE MOST under-rated US Hardcore LP of all time.....
Mark Fry | Gilbertsville, PA United States | 05/09/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Not only were Bl'ast! ahead of their time musically by mixing raging Black Flag-style Hardcore and the intensity of metal the same way Corrosion of Conformity was on "Animosty" and later "Technocracy", but Power of Expression stands as one of the most intense Hardcore LP's EVER. It easily matches the insanity of Black Flag, sometimes eclipsing it (and I WORSHIP Black Flag!). They are pretty much forgotten today, but I will ALWAYS sing the praises of this band to ANYONE who will listen....BL'AST! f***ing RULES!!!"
More than Expression
NATON | Washington, DC | 07/12/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"What stood out most about Bl'ast is that they sounded like BlackFlag to a tee. Music gerus wrote off this release as being nothing more than a ripoff of music styles. Bl'ast was in a class by themselves.Their live performance was unmatched. Their Starwood shows were packed and crowds very violent. If you can forget BF existed,and just give a quick listen to this:You will find this release intense. Not just intense musically, but stabbing lyrically.In my opinion,this band was better than Black Flag and their live set proved so."