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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.