When you think of hard, loud, and violent music bands like Slayer, Black Flag, Danzig, and Samhain come to mind. But nothing prepared me for the beautiful and utterly brutal assault that this album unleashes. This was the second Rollins Band album and consisted of the "End Of Silence" record lineup.
The record begins with the rollicking and fast hard rock song given the suitable title of "Hard", it seems to be about how the more shit you take, the stronger and more intelligent you get. It seems to flirt with hardcore and jazzy elements with the trademark Rollins touch. Next is "What Have I Got?" which begins with a couple hard slams and then breaks down into a groovy, hard blues rock extravaganza with Rollins' tortured and violent vocals giving it a punk rock-ish feel. "I Feel Like This" is much like the songs on Rollins' first record "Lifetime" in the fact that it is fast and in a "Damaged" era Black Flag kind of style while creating a creepy sense of atmosphere with a spoken word breakdown during the middle of the song. The next song is titled "Planet Joe" (after his late friend Joe Cole's book), it begins with riffs so crushing it would give any of today's hardest bands a run for their money and some of the most angry and violent vocals that I have ever heard come from Rollins. With lyrics like "This world is loaded, it's ugly. A sprawling ghetto, it's ugly. See him walking with a gun in his hand, see her walking with a gun in her hand, see me walking with a gun in my heart, loaded, ugly." it seems that Rollins is thoroughly and rightfully disgusted by the world around him. Next is "Love Song" and it captures what it would sound like if you could hear the psychotic heartache of rejection. It begins very quietly and slowly builds a creepy atmosphere through 3 minutes of Rollins growling and speaking softly "I Hate You, I Want You", then he breaks down into a screaming fit and yells until his throat is coarse, the lyrics are very minimal, but the idea here wasn't to write a shitload of lyrics, but to create a sound, and this IS the sound of true heartache. It proves he and his band were masters of capturing a feeling and an emotion. Just when you think the songs can't become anymore twisted and utterly venting comes "Turned Inside Out", a disturbed, freaked out blues jam about learning from humiliation, disgust and being hurt. Rollins spazzes out and sounds like a beast trying to escape his cage....the amount of gut wrenching passion in this song is frightning. "Down & Away" is slightly faster than the previous 3 songs and sounds similar to "Hot Animal Machine", it is equally raw and effective however.
The next 6 songs are two 1989 recordings of songs from "End Of Silence" (Tearing & You Didn't Need"), "Thin Air" (an excellent song, one of Rollins' best), a much harder, rawer and longer version of the Suicide cover "Ghostrider" and alternate versions of "What Have I Got?" and "Down & Away". These last 6 tracks were added to the new remastered re-issue of "Hard Volume" and are all demos from these sessions.
Overall this album is one of my all time favorite, mainly because it is so fucking real. At the time the band was strapped for cash and living on very little food, the pain and anguish depicted on the record is very real. While it is DEFINITELY not for the weak of heart or lightweight, this album is the absolutely best at what it does- capturing intensity, rage and frustration. The ultimate soundtrack for weight lifting, bad days at work and just raw power.