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After ripping out with their debut album of teen anger run amok, D.R.I. returned with a second trunk of pissed off speed mayhem. But wait! The band had enjoyed a sizable hardcore punk audience, what with their furious sound and underground record making ways. A 1984 seven-inch EP titled Violent Pacification helped cement their subterranean fame, but then they did the unthinkable and signed with Death records.
Death was a subsidiary of Metal Blade records, formed specifically to handle speedcore and hardcore bands, and, as you may remember, punks of the day thought there was nothing more banal that metal, and nothing more evil than the capitalist dictators who ran the record labels that issued it. Now in truth, Metal Blade was still run on a bedroom basis by label founder Brian Slagel, but this cuts no ice with the punks! Metal was metal, it was still a sexist, racist, homophobic form of music, and any band (despite their own individual morals) that did business within that sphere was a SELLOUT! Bollocks. The punks of the day could never get it through their mohawked heads that indie label metal was as much an underground reaction to mainstream rock as punk was a reaction to mainstream pop!
But that’s the way it was, and despite D.R.I. delivering an album among the fastest, angriest and most invigorating ever issued, the hardcore intelligentsia turned it’s back on them. Fine by me, I thought…means more for us folks who don’t care about the politics of music in the first damn place. The only real change in the band’s sound that manifests itself is in the production, which is far, far more professional than the band’s Spartan debut. More bass and louder drums help power these 25 anthems of anit-war, anti-parent, anti-school, anti-government, and anti-abuse poetry into fist throwing life. Its all damn good, but there are some real highlights. “I Don’t Need Society” is revamped from the debut and is easily one of the greatest songs ever in heavy music with it’s heavy vamping intro and the explosion of speed that follows. “Couch Slouch,” “I’d Rather Be Sleeping,” Mad Man,” “Stupid, Stupid War,” and the raging “Slit My Wrist” (total lyric: “Every day I get more pissed, slit my wrist, slit my wrist!”) all blow the walls down. And then there’s “Nursing Home Blues,” a formidable metal chug addressing the unexpectedly sensitive issue of old folks left to rot in day care centers for the elderly.
This was a cult album from the word go, the one everyone concerned with all things hard, heavy and fast had to hear. And while D.R.I. would eventually go on to earn the sellout cries chucked at them all too prematurely, this was the band at their pissed best. Don’t miss it.