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July 31, 2006 | by  | in Music | [ssba]

Black Flag: My War

I used to think life was hard. But you know… is it? Go to work, punch the clock, go home. Is that it?

So remember to tick all the nice boxes on that VUW Mental Health survey, you wouldn’t want the University to think you are crazy. Suicide isn’t a problem. There’s no depression in New Zealand.

I do not have any punk credibility to ruin, so I’m perfectly comfortable saying that my favourite Black Flag vocalist was Henry Rollins. In fact, his words and ‘irresistible force’ attitude to life have inspired me since high school (no, seriously!). He also has cool tattoos, and he was on Jackass once.

My War gets a little ignored in the BF canon, a lot of fans writing off all the Rollins’ era post-Damaged. But this is the true pinnacle they were climbing towards. The humour became even more caustic and every word and bellow was as wrenching as ‘Damaged II’ (Henry’s desperate rant that ended their more famous effort and the only song there to feature his lyrics). The first side of My War follows the established Flag blueprint: thrashing and low-tuned LA hardcore with the idiosyncratic chaos that is a Greg Ginn guitar-solo, but the last three tunes? Ginn gets his Tony Iomni on and pushes the grooves out to 6 minutes apiece.

Melding bluesy heavy metal riffs to the grit of hardcore, this 1983 album laid the groundwork for the Obsessed and to a lesser extent Saint Vitus (who put out their debut on Ginn’s SST Records) and all the sludge that was to follow in their wake. Probably even more influential outside the speedy confines of their own genre, Black Flag unleashed a powerful statement about the limits of self-destruction and the pain of self-examination. It’s also perfect to play really loudly when the bastards are trying to grind you down.


About the Author ()

BORN WITH a cigarette in one hand and The Trial in other, Bea meant to go on as she started. Music wasn’t her first love, but her first love ended in a fight over rightful ownership of a Velvet Underground LP and the kitchen knife, so she chose the kinder option and stuck with it. In her spare time she enjoys casting aspersions, skulking, and making sweeping statements. She never checks her facts: figures it’s a way to live a little, to have arguments with people, then meet them. She’s currently writing a collection of short stories inspired by Schopenhauer’s manifesto of suffering and the Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disaster. When it gets published, she’s pretty sure that boy will want to hold her hand.

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