Fugazi - In on the Kill Taker (Cover Artwork)


Fugazi: In on the Kill TakerIn on the Kill Taker (1993)
Dischord Records

Reviewer Rating: 4.5
User Rating:

Contributed by: RENALDO69RENALDO69
(others by this writer | submit your own)

I've always loved Fugazi's dynamic and more so, the unspoken 'rivalry' I place in my mind when listening to the alternating vocals of Ian MacKaye and Guy Picciotto. 13 Songs and "Waiting Room" are what I remember them most fondly for, but that doesn't discount just how powerful a record In on the Ki.
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I've always loved Fugazi's dynamic and more so, the unspoken 'rivalry' I place in my mind when listening to the alternating vocals of Ian MacKaye and Guy Picciotto. 13 Songs and "Waiting Room" are what I remember them most fondly for, but that doesn't discount just how powerful a record In on the Kill Taker was and still is. Many saw it as their step into the commercial stream of Billboard's 200 and a deserving one at that, but when I first heard and fully absorbed the record in 2000, the aggressiveness and diverse range of influences strewn into the album resonated the most. There's enormous energy infused and it showed why so many post-hardcore bands always list them atop their favourites.

MacKaye was the vocalist I leaned to more. Picciotto was great, but MacKaye's depth and range really stuck with me from the first time I heard their music. "Facet Squared" was emblematic in its slow intro, a riff that culminated into a crescendo of unrelenting punk. The dissonance of the guitars were what made post-hardcore and noise rock, well, post-hardcore and noise rock. MacKaye's gruff disposition was perfectly streamlined into the off-key melody cultivated throughout the album and "Returning The Screw" showed how versatile he really was. It played off in stark contrast to the opener in its grim, haunting tone. What punctuated this record furthermore was Brendan Canty's work on the kit. His drums echoed phenomenally. As a technically sound band, and that's quite an understatement if I were to leave it at that, this album really rings true as to why Fugazi are held in a talismanic light. You've heard bands like Thursday, AFI and At-The-Drive-In constantly make reference to them, and it's apparent how much MacKaye and Picciotto inadvertently helped mold the likes of Geoff Rickly and Cedric Zavala, if not in writing style, then in their musical delivery.

Fugazi showed that you didn't need to be the best vocalist out there to translate a message. Seeing them referenced in high esteem over the years showed how they were regarded, and Picciotto's slanted take on the mic added that extra edge and dimension. "Public Witness Champion" and "Smallpox Champion" demonstrated this. The spine of the record however wasn't the most enjoyable for me. There was a slight disjoint here and this disconnection, while it didn't level me off the album, did provide a break that I didn't need. Thank God for "Sweet and Low" to end that monotony. It broke the tempo back in perfectly for me. Even the album's art, design and packaging had that extra something and while not a conscious ploy to reinvigorate their sound, Fugazi never shied away from experimentation. They were all about steps forward and unsubdued music. "Cassavetes" had a jazzy effect embedded along with Joe Lally's eclectic, slapping basslines that were perfectly accompanied by slick chords.

There was conventional rhythm stymied into the album combined with syncopated riffs. Fugazi always blended such with near-perfection. There were subsequent allusions that with an emerging alternative rock scene in 1993, as well as a sparring grunge scene, both of these factors contributed significantly to Fugazi's ultimate push into the Billboard charts. Some saw it as a commercial breakthrough but if I were aware more of the scene back then, I wouldn't care. I'd still be romanced by the charm of "Great Cop" and "Instrument." MacKaye cut loose often and when he did, it was ballistic and clever.

Their cutting riffs, shredding guitars and overall musical camaraderie lent a lot to Fugazi's credibility and likeability, not to mention their view to eschew violence and embrace a straight-edge lifestyle. But to me, what they etched their name in most, was that delicate balance of spinning and incorporating a vast array of musical influences into their work, which showed when contemporary bands from a wide range of genres mentioned Fugazi as a key idol. Did Fugazi expose, revolutionize or encapsulate the essence of post-hardcore? Who cares. They made remarkably brilliant music. Simple as that. They set the bar high and such a standard is quite a feat to come close to ever again.


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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
killtaker (July 5, 2013)

13 Songs is not a Fugazi full length. It is a compilation album. It is the original, self-titled EP and Margin Walker EP. They weren't recorded at the same time and weren't recorded or produced by the same people. It is great but it is not a full length Fugazi record.

elliot (July 5, 2013)

Their best record. The right amount of experimentation and aggression. Those guys kinda knew what they were doing, huh??

SilentStorms (July 4, 2013)

Typo: "MacKaye was the vocalist I leaned to more" -> I assume that should read "MacKaye was the vocalist I leaned to love/appreciate more".

Russe11 (July 4, 2013)

also I'd never heard the Ruts before. That shit is awesome, so thanks for that.

Russe11 (July 4, 2013)

Will, I respect your opinion about Fugazi's music, but does the fact that they evolved a great deal over their years as a band factor in to how you judge them at all? I mean if you listen to 13 Songs and The Argument back to back it's pretty astounding how much they managed to grow but still sound like themselves. I think they deserve a lot of credit for just how organically their music matured over time. I say that because with a few exceptions I tend to prefer their later albums. I wonder if the fact that a lot people consider Repeater and 13 Songs to be their masterpieces turns them off to people who might have otherwise enjoyed them more had they listened to their later albums first like I did. I say this as a huge fan of theirs though so maybe that's just me.

I guess what I'm saying is...if you don't think The Argument is the work of a truly special band, then we can just agree to disagree. This album is very good but definitely not their most accomplished album.

slowstupidhungry (July 3, 2013)

And yeah, this doesn't mean I think Fugazi are the worst shit in the world, just that they get way more credit than they deserve for their music; They do deserve all the credit in the world for their work ethic/touring, though.

slowstupidhungry (July 3, 2013)

Yeah, Mike, I have close friends who love Fugazi, and I myself am a big time Embrace and Minor Threat fan; I just heard Fugazi before I'd heard any Ruts song besides "Staring at the Rudeboys" so when I finally hunkered down and listened to "The Crack" it was a revelation.


http://youtu.be/fL7 LC-6uwvk

lookingforpatterns (July 3, 2013)

Killtaker is a good album, but it's no 13 Songs.

devianter (July 3, 2013)

well i already learnt not to consider new music reviews by this guy. i dunno who hired him but renaldo, man, you're fucking retarded.

mikexdude (July 3, 2013)

Definitely a good comparison for their early work. I know a lot of hardcore/punk people think this sort of music starts and ends with Fugazi--or Minor Threat/Embrace etc without realizing how much it owes to English bands like Sex Pistols, PiL or Ruts. That said I think you could chalk up any band or artist as "the b rate version of _____", when it comes down to it. And is that necessarily a bad thing? I guess being from the DC area makes it easier for me to get romantic about them. Personally, I think their aggression and their local/DC influences make it unique in their own right.

slowstupidhungry (July 2, 2013)

Prepared for flack, but this album kinda cements my theory that Fugazi were always just a second rate, American Ruts dressed up as post-hardcore poets or something. Heard they were great live, though!

Renaldo69 (July 2, 2013)

Echo...Calm down man. I know you probably didn't get your fill of cranberry juice today but still, keep calm. It's only the internet.

kickaha (July 2, 2013)

"if I were aware more of the scene back then" - It kinda bothers me that this was reviewed by someone who hadn't "heard or fully absorbed" this album until 2000. I know you don't have to have heard an album when it first came out to have an appreciation for, or an opinion on it, but these reviews are a special situation, and someone who had a better context of the time period would have done this more justice.

Also, the title is "Public Witness Program" not "Public Witness Champion".

I got this when it came out in '93 and I still listen to it a few times every year. Probably my favorite Fugazi record over the years. The first time I heard Hot Water Music was Fule For the Hate game and it immediately reminded me of In On the Kill Taker. The raw power, passion, energy & emotion of these 2 albums, I always found to be similar, and similarly awesome!

harekrishna (July 2, 2013)

this is a good reminder to watch Instrument again. totally amazing film!


returnofdebs (July 2, 2013)

My only issue with this review is no mention at all of "Last Chance for a Slow Dance." It's my favorite Fugazi song as well as their best closer on any album. I would entertain a discussion for "The Argument" due to its relevance twelve years later.

EchosMyron (July 2, 2013)

"I'd still be romanced by the charm of "Great Cop" and "Instrument."

...if ever there was a time for a classic album NOT to be reviewed by this idiot. "Great Cop" is Fugazi's angriest song ever! This guy really uses whatever laudatory word his mind can come up with to describe songs, huh? Perhaps "Sweet and Low" can be called charming, but certainly not a sub-two-minute blast of hardcore reminiscent of Minor Threat.

EchosMyron (July 2, 2013)

Fuck you, RENALDO. To be honest, I've never cared for "Returning the Screw" or "Walken's Syndrome," but this has the feeling of a landmark classic throughout, and also sports one of the greatest album covers I've ever seen.

baldsteve (July 2, 2013)

Bought the day it came out. Still holds up just as well.

lmchc (July 2, 2013)

classic reynaldo

misterspike (July 2, 2013)

Fave Fugazi release. "Smallpox Champion" FTW

nickdiesel (July 2, 2013)

it's beautiful

oldpunkerforever (July 2, 2013)

nothing wrong w this, in any way. The definition of classic-oldpunker-

killtaker (July 2, 2013)

Goes without saying this is a classic record. Best of 1993.

Dante3000 (July 2, 2013)

No no no no no. You CAN NOT give this album the same score you gave Pennywise's "Unknown Road". Five star reviews were made for albums like this.

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