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My first foray into political music wasn’t Discharge or Crass (both of whom I never really clung to) or even The Dead Kennedy’s who I later loved. No, three years before I was even aware of these bands it was Kerrang of all the possible magazines that advised me to check out a band called D.R.I. whose Four Of A Kind album had recently been released and was gaining the band much positive press. So with my first ever full weeks wage packet I bought from Our Price in Canterbury the only D.R.I. release I could find. The artwork was awesome, a skeleton in army threads carrying a rifle bursting through a locked door. What more could a metal head want. On the same day I also bought Suicidal Tendencies first record with the classic Institutionalised song on it but over all that record could not touch this. D.R.I. were so far removed from what I usually listened to that on first listen I wasn’t really attracted by the 30 second punk blasts contained within. I later learned that this LP I had bought contained the bands first album plus the Violent Pacification EP as well but let’s not split hairs. The original, now well out of press record was originally released in 1983 so it belongs here.
Being a metal head the first thing you realise about this is that in no way is it metal or rock based. This is was my first lesson in hardcore music and even though I had nothing to compare it to it left a huge impact on me and laid the foundations for my Black Flag obsession a few years later and eventually my total immersion into hardcore punk during the early 00′s.
DRI had the reputation of being the fastest band on the face of the Earth. After one spin it’s hard not to see why. Sad To Be is one of the longer songs (coming in at just over two minutes in length) and it starts at a blistering pace. Then before you know it the band slows to what most thrash bands would consider a decent pace and lull you into a false sense of melody before the band ease themselves back into the blast beat fuelled thrash out. The songs are so fast and short that it is easy on the first couple of listens of the record to wonder just what the hell had happened.
A lot of the politics of course was juvenile anti-Regan, anti-parent ranting which is usually the norm for these sorts of records but it’s hard to ignore a songs like War Crimes, Commuter Man and especially Capitalists Suck with it’s venomous into of ‘You Buy buy buy all day long’ introduction. Singer Kurt Brecht definitely means it. The message is clear. These snotty oiks would not settle for what middle America was offering them at any price.
The track that pulled me into the Dirty Rotten Imbeciles stinky web of poisoned speed riffage was the stop/start genius of No Sense. I would try to keep up with the lyrics on the inner sheet but just had no chance (trying this with Napalm Death’s From Enslavement To Obliteration album a year later was plain ridiculous). Yet after those first few listens the melodies came through, hammer ons and lyrical ticks become the huge chorus hooks that other guitar bands would normally deliver. Busted, Money Stinks and the awesomely fast Reganomics all become sing-along anthems the like for which bozo rockers Keiser Chiefs would rip off their grandma’s arm for and all in the space of a forty second onslaught. DRI burst onto the scene in 1982 and by ’83 had achieved this. A hardcore masterpiece.
Back before they went pure thrash, D.R.I. was deeply rooted in a punk/kind of thrashy sound that could be compared to other bands like Suicidal Tendencies and Corrosion of Conformity. They played so insanely fast so they seemed very thrashy but the riffs are pure punk.
The production is flawed at best. It’s not bad but not good either. They pull off that punk sound very well. The drums are loud and crushing. The guitars are there but could be louder. They do have that perfect punky sound so it works very well with this album. I wish the bass was louder. That’s my main complaint with the sound.
The songs are ridiculously fast and short. The songs are very similar in the way they are structured and because they rely completely on power chord/punk riffs, some of the songs are easy to get confused. “Money Stinks” is a good habit breaker with the sound. Nice riffs and an awesome drum/bass part. Kurt does a great job making this album so punky and good. His voice is easily recognizable among the older punk/thrash bands and he does a fantastic job on this album. He is able to keep up with the extremely fast tempo perfectly. The lyrics are the typical anti lyrics.
This album is great if you like punk or thrash. I’m more of a thrash fan and this album really leaves a mark on me. Not as much as their later stuff like “Definition” or “Thrash Zone” but it’s definitely a keeper. If you want more of a thrashy fusion with punk, I would recommend their second album but definitely check this album out.
Best tracks – “Money Stinks”, “Closet Punk”, and “Reagonomics”
D.R.I. are well known among metalheads for their crossover/thrash stuff like "Thrash Zone" but a lot of people seem to forget their first two albums, which are indeed hardcore punk classics. With this album having over 20 songs and playing time being around 17 minutes, you KNOW this album is the fastest thing you will ever hear. This is a perfect example of true hardcore, no need for shit like Hatebreed or Madball.
Only around 4 or 5 of the songs on here are over a minute in length, so you know there is no fucking around here. Just pure speed, adrenaline and energy. The guitar work here doesn't stray away from it's hardcore punk roots, really fast, simple power chord progressions but it also adds a few of it's own things here and there to make it sound a bit different than the other hardcore stuff at the time. I give a lot of credit to Spike on this album, really fucking fast playing and some little solos here and there which standout.
The vocals sound thrash, this is probably the only metal thing that D.R.I. had at the time. Kurt's vocals have a really big "fuck you" type attitude in them, I never really knew how to explain it but they sound really cool. The vocals, like the guitar are EXTREMELY fast. I really have a hard time comprehending how he could make all the lyrics out singing them that fast.
The drumming... hmm... take a guess? Oh yeah, they're fast. Surprised ya there didn't I? This whole album is fucking fast. The drumming here defines hardcore and punk drumming and I imagine it highly influenced some of the newer thrash and metal drummers in general today due to the speed.
Bass doesn't stick out in the mix but there is a few moments where it's just vocals, drumming and bass and the tone there is fucking sweet. I can't say anything amazing or bad about the bass, it's just average really. But of course, IT'S FAST!
The production is really dirty and rough. I love it. If you have ever listened to Dead Kennedy's "Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables" or Discharge's "Hear Nothing See Nothing Say Nothing" and liked the production, then you will like the production here.
The songwriting isn't very 'skilled' as some would say, but I don't think in hardcore you are supposed to have tones of tempo changes or time signatures or really technical riffs. Correct?
Overall, this album is the fastest thing I have ever heard. This is an essential hardcore album and if you're a fan of punk and you haven't heard this...well then...go buy it! Hell, download it if you have to! This album is a real landmark in hardcore.
Standout tracks -
I Don't Need Society
Who am I
As I said in my "Dealing With It" review, early DRI was NOT metal. And this album doesn't even have the shades of metal "Dealing With It" has. This is raw, angry hardcore punk, of the Thrashcore subgenre (which is not Crossover-thrash for those not in the know). And this was pretty much the first album of that subgenre.
In 1983, this was the fastest music in the world (and it's still pretty far up there now). No metal band could touch this, as far as speed goes, at the time (kinda like how a year before no metal band was as extreme as Discharge).
Now, enough about this albums historical significance, onto what really counts: the MUSIC. This album opens with the classic anti-war anthem "I Don't Need Society" (which was redone on "Dealing With It", along with many other songs form here). After a short "build up" intro, it kicks into some of the most intense thrashing (again, in a non-metal way) you will ever hear, and before you know, it's finished, at 1:17. And that's one of the longer songs. Only 4 songs on here reach or surpass one minute...and yet they all still manage to be catchy as fuck, in a "hyperspeed hardcore" way.
There is not much variation in tempo/feel on here, but it doesn't matter, because the vibes on here are excellent, and there still are some moments that aren't hectic and insanely fast. If it aint broke, don't fix it.
One complaint I have about this album is that the production could be better, which knocked off a couple points from my rating. Everything's still audible, and it beats the shitout of any bedroom Black Metal demo, but it's a little TOO muddy (of course totally clean production would probably be even worse in this case, though). Of course, the reason for this would probably be that they simply couldn't afford anything better...hell, this was originally an EP, not an album, and seeing as this was their official debut release, these boys certainly weren't in the big leagues at this point.
On the CD reissue of this, there are a number of bonus tracks. Most of them are not notable-some radio interview snippets, live tunes, etc-however there is also an unreleased tune "No People", early versions of "Snap" and "The Explorer" from "Dealing With It", and the entirety of the 4 song EP "Violent Pacifation" from (I believe) 1984, which are all awesome additions to this excellent album.
Overall, I'd say the standout tracks on here (ie the original album/first 22 songs) are I Don't Need Society, Commuter Man, Who Am I, Money Stinks, Yes Ma'am, Reaganomics, No Sense, and Blockhead, but they're all great songs.
In short, if you're into hyperspeed Hardcore Punk, and for whatever crazy reason don't have this yet, GET IT NOW. But if you only want metal, this is definitely not the album-and probably not the band, as even their later thrash METAL albums were still crossover-for you.
In 1982 Hardcore Punk was raging all over the world, but more or less every influental, genre defining band was from the US or the UK. Unlike their British counterparts, however, many of the American bands were trying to play faster than the rest and although there was quite some competition (e.g. Boston's SSD or Austin's MDC), it was three 17 year old kids from Boston, who seemed to have come out of nowhere, who took the cake.
Consequently, when D.R.I. finally entered the recording studio to record the Dirty Rotten EP, their only competitors for being the fastest band in the world were Gang Green with their contribution to the "This Is Boston, Not L.A." compilation. Apart from Gang Green, however, there was no other band around in 1982 who played as fast as D.R.I. on this release.
From the first drum beats of "I Don't Need Society" to Kurt's last shouting of "Blockhead!", from 20-second-assaults like "Why", "Balance Of Terror" (the second half, i.e. without the "intro"), "Human Waste", "Draft Me", "F.R.D.C." or "Plastique" to an (over 2 minutes long!) "epic" like "Sad To Be" there is not one redundant note to be found on here. This is Hardcore Punk at its very best: raw, fast, in-your-face!
Although the songs on this album are very short, these are structured, well-thought-out, complete songs with intros, verses, choruses, breaks and even guitar solos/fills ("My Fate To Hate" (25 seconds), "Closet Punk" (31 seconds)).
What's really fascinating about this release, though, is the fact that it is so fucking catchy. No matter how fast they played, D.R.I. could write some really catchy choruses ("Reaganomics", "No Sense", "Capitalists Suck", "War Crimes"), catchy songs ("I Don't Need Society", the accelerating "Commuter Man", "Yes Ma'am", "Dennis' Problem") or even real (i.e. even more catchy) Hardcore Punk "hits" like "Who Am I" and "Money Stinks".
The Dirty Rotten EP has become an all-time classic, because really everything has come together on it: Great riffs, a great production, great lyrics, great machine gun vocals and, last but not least, an insanely fast, yet kind of sloppy, but pretty unique and highly imaginative drummer, whose style added very much to the brilliance of this album.
At the time of its release The Dirty Rotten EP was the fastest album in the world (and it maintained its title for quite some time) and it demonstrated perfectly what Hardcore Punk was all about: Four kids, who seemed to explode with creativity, crammed everything into 20- to 75-second-songs, went into a studio to record 22 songs in two days and created a fast, raw and intense masterpiece, that still stands as one of the best albums ever made. A truly perfect album!
Are you in the mood for a very cheesy metafor? I think you are. If you took time to read a D.R.I. review instead of just listening to their music you must've got some humor. Let’s go: If the ‘Dirty Rotten EP’ was ‘A New Hope’, then ‘Dealing With It’ was ‘The Empire Strikes Back’. Yes, we’re talking about the rare case of a sequel being actually better than the original. Dealing With It was a crystallised version of the earlier The Dirty Rotten EP rawness. And the ‘Dirty Rotten EP’ was very good indeed!
Welcome to this world, my dear D.R.I. You’ve listened well to Black Flag and TSOL but especially Crucifix, Circle Jerks and Minor Threat got your attention, didn’t they? Who cares you guys can’t actually play yet because you certainly are able to write the best possible songs which exactly suit your musical abilties and attitude! Extra credit for not trying to be better than you are but instead translating yourselves into hardcore punk. But then again, that is the right hardcore attitude. Nevertheless you’ve written a bunch of amazingly catchy songs!
And there was that discussion about the song “No Sense” having the first blast beat. Ah well, let’s forget Jazz from the sixties then? No we won’t! But the blast here was probably the first blast beat in hardcore punk. It would even take another few years before the metal scene would have a go at it as well. Not a bad innovation coming from a few youngsters rehearsing in a bedroom, right?
Honest, innovative, etc. That all sounds nice but the truth is, it’s just a damn good fast hardcore punk record, it’s fun to listen to anytime and it never gets boring. 16 minutes of groundshaking debut.
As a metal-head, one needs to support punk as well. Only posers appreciate one without the other. D.R.I. are one of the greatest hardcore bands of all time, and with their realease of the Dirty Rotten LP, came the greatest barrage of noise to ever invade my ears under the label of "punk." This record was way ahead of its time.
The production on the album is nothing to write home about, but it's the best you could expect from an '83 punk release. All the instruments can be heard, with the drums coming out a little bit, which is nothing to complain about, seeing as how they are a highlight of the album. The guitars and bass are crisp and you can clearly hear what they're doing, which is unique when compared to other hardcore albums. With the runtime of the re-release with the Violent Pacification bonus tracks coming in at just over 20 minutes, the album is just long enough to keep you from wanting more, and short enough to keep you from getting bored.
The songs do sound quite the same, but you can easily tell them apart, for each song has its own individual quirks. The riffs are quite notable, which is what sets this album apart from most punk albums. Each and every song is packed to the brim with attitude, and they make you want to kill some capitalists.
The drums are the real highlight on this album. The way he blasts all the way back in 1982 just blows my mind. His fills and his beats are amazing and he fits in perfectly with what the guitars do. The way all their instruments come together is just one of the most amazing things you can hear. The guitarist shreds and his solos and just a chaotic orgy of string bending, but in a good way. The bass sounds great and really comes through on the album. The singers extremely fast spit vocals keep you interested while listening, and their lyrics are very politically driven.
This album is pretty much the most punk thing you will ever hear in your life: a must hear for anyone!
The Dirty Rotten Imbeciles [EDIT: my dumb ass had "infidels" here for years...minus ten scene points for me] are included on the Metal Archives because by 1987, they were a full-fledged thrash metal unit and a key player in the crossover movement. In 1983 however, this was far from the case. DRI were still a raw, sloppy, fast as fucking hell hardcore punk ensemble with a knack for social satire and unparalled aggression. This is about as fast and nasty as it gets, ladies and gentleman, so expect an abundance of furious punk riffage from beginning to end and a vocal savagery you won't hear anywhere else.
Now while the band certainly does spin some much needed variation into what could become very generic song structures (with their intros, solos, and mid-to-slow paced riffs, not to mention the diverse lyrical catalog), most of these tunes clock in at less than a minute, with many being less than half that. This is an album fueled by rage, but it's even more ferocious than the best hardcore bands of the day. DOA, Suicidal Tendencies, COC, not even the Dead Kennedys hit this hard, this fucking fast. Note one of the earlier recorded blast beats in "No Sense." But while it blazes along at unprecedented speed, it's not as heavy as it could be. The guitar tone is pretty thin and the drums are a bit sloppy, though the rawness admittedly gives it a realistic dimension necessary for punk recordings. Plus it allows the bass to shine through more often than not, something the band would always make sure to do on their albums. Brecht's vocals and lyrics are in top form here as well. His shout-singing style is often imitated, but never fully realized by genre copycats.
And for those that are picking up one of the CD re-releases, you'll get treated to a plethora of bonus tracks, including songs from the slightly tighter Violent Pacification EP, radio interview clips, and a bunch of live tracks. Fans of hardcore punk and raw, punky thrash should not do without; this record and its followup are pretty much the apex of the genre. These guys would of course put out some nice thrash albums by the end of the decade, but nothing near as vehement as their first two records.
I don’t know if purists consider this the first speedcore album ever issued, but with a release date of ’83 and clearly pre-dating Cryptic Slaughter, Siege, Repulsion, Heresy and many other stalwarts, I’ll be happy to say that Arizona’s D.R.I. were more than bit ahead of their time. Which might be said of the tempos of their songs themselves, as an obsession with hyper-fast speed and songs that approximated quick, blunt slaps to the face dominate this and other early releases from the band.
But D.R.I. was not just a talent-deprived bunch of pissed off teenagers. They were a very talented bunch of pissed off teenagers, which makes all the difference when it come to good versus poor record making. The vocals, delivered by pissed off teen Kurt Brecht, are furious but clear and somewhat articulate in their delivery of pissed off teen themes like parents, peers, society, school, and other crucial stuff. The guitar work of Spike Cassidy is uniformly sound, not being as noisy or blurry as future grindcore and death metal noises would, but pack a tight and precise punch all the same. For their part, the drum and bass dudes take it upon themselves to hold things together at the fastest tempos possible, and it’s this tightness that set D.R.I. and their growing speedcore contingent apart from the legions of drunken Discharge clones who felt playing sloppy was an attribute of punk, and not simply an indication of lacking talent. But as the general riot of “Capitalist Suck,” “I Don’t Need Society,” “Commuter Man,” “Who Am I,” “Money Stinks,” “Reaganomics,” and “Blockhead” rage forth, one’s jaw must hang open at the dexterity displayed here.
No production credits given on the original LP, as it’s pretty much a plug the stuff in a let rip kind of deal, but that’s just fine. The sound is in your face, angry and raw like a sashimi salad. Speedcore would flourish (a bit) in the years to come, but this is the genre at it’s purest. Pissed-off teens rule, man!
... And boom! You realize that you don't need society.
This indeed is punk... as punk as it gets. Though, this isn't just any regular punk, this is some steroid-injected hardcore punk that excels at high miles. One thing you should know about DRI is that they've always been known for very speedy tunes (not in the grindcore vein, but more like "speedcore") and this album I believe demonstrates some of their fastest tunes ever. I have the original 1987 reissue album amazingly and this presents the real quality sound unlike the remastered albums that came later...
Speed! That's all I think of when I want to play this album. Metal? Well maybe not fully, but the album does definitely present a very metallic-sounding guitar tone and even thrash drum patterns (then again, most thrash is derived from a spunky punk attitude, but still...) Even through the cleanly distorted guitar tones and clean bass tones, you can sense a huge punk "fuck you" vibe and that's the only best way of describing the production of this album. Surprisingly, for a late 80's punk album, this has some great production. Try thinking a cross between Sepultura's "Schizophrenia" and Sex Pistol's "God Save The Queen..." yes that's a weird analogy, but that's the kind of sound this album presents. Dammit, this is suppose to be punk, isn't this suppose to be messy and gritty?!
Kurt Brecht always stood out as a unique vocalist... I never heard a guy sing as fast and yet in such great pace like him. He's mainly what stands out most in all of the songs, and all of the songs do have their own identities and are memorable. Yes, the band itself stands out as well obviously, but try listening to tracks like "No Sense" and see what I mean. That song is pretty amazing because of Kurt's signature style of speed singing. "I Don't Need Society," the opening track, is another great track which, to me at least, is the most punkiest track on the album. It possesses the catchiness of a good old moshable punk song and when I heard this song, I didn't think about DRI being metal, but just being punk. Some tracks, like "Why," are no longer than 20 seconds and are plain punk, while tracks like "Couch Slouch," are the more "untypical" punk songs which are longer than 1:30. There's so many songs on this album to go over, but to summarize it for you, they're all great. It doesn't hurt to mention that these so called "anarchist/fuck society" kind of lyrics are very intelligent and well thought out. They aren't just "fuck society... revolt!" style lyrics like typical punk anthems, but they're more humorous with a huge message behind the lyrics.
This is hands down some great stuff and essential for any punk enthusiast or even old school thrash fans. If there's one punk album a metalhead should have in their collection of metal music, it should be this album by the Dirty Rotten Imbeciles. Go get it now and mosh to the anthems bitch!
Ear Candy: Every track has it's day so all the tracks, in short, are great.
D.R.I. are a band that have jumped in and out of the metal scene in their rather storied career. While most of their output isn't much to write home about, this first record captured an impressive vibe from the get-go. It's humorous punk bounce mixed with somewhat heavy hardcore guitars makes for a fun listen, if not a typically one-two punk styled release. The lyrics are the typical "us against the system" style and helped to define an entire era of West Coast "tough guy" antipoltical views. Thankfully, the music is fun enough to make these anthems seem more like youthful cries for freedom than any pretentious patter from an aging set of punks. It's good, sometimes unclean fun that any fan of the early attempts at crossover should enjoy.
With over twenty-eight tracks it's hard to pull apart favorites but the band did manage to throw a classic or two into the mix. The opening blast of "I Don't Need Society" is a favorite as is "Balance of Terror" and "Reaganomics". Most of it does sound a bit the same, but should be enjoyed as a full experience of chaotic hardcore punk instead of a singles record that one will pull this song over that one. Listen to it as one mass of chaos, and you'll find the purpose within.
D.R.I. continued down many different paths after this one, but this was the first and in many ways is the most popular. I'd shy away from this if you are a metal fan and not a hardcore fan, but if you have a soft spot in your heart for hardcore punk and you like the moments where it attempted to cross into metal this is for you.