The first time I heard Deadline was on Dischord's Twenty Years anthology. I couldn't believe I had never heard of the band after listening to all 50 seconds of "No Revolution," their contribution to the whole gnarly affair. That song was everything I've ever loved about punk rock, D.C. punk in particular: It blisters by in a maelstrom of rudimentary drums, fuzzy guitar riffs and most importantly, it was catchy as hell. Around the time of its genesis, D.C.'s greatest strength was in its utter simplicity and its undeniable hooks. It may seem odd to say Minor Threat or Government Issue wrote catchy songs with more hooks than a well-supplied bait shop, but that's what they did. Why else does every punk on the planet know every other line to "I Don't Wanna Hear It"? 'Cause that shit's catchy.
Deadline only recorded twice. Their first session at Inner Ear landed three of their tracks on an early Dischord sampler, Flex Your Head. Like the Ark of the Covenant, the One Ring, and the Shrine of the Silver Monkey, their followup recordings were handily lost, becoming one of the scene's lost gems. Nearly a decade later, the tapes were resurrected and a 12" was released in 1990. 8/2/82 was finally issued on CD in 2007. Guess when it was originally recorded.
Like most of their peers, Deadline's songs are immediately memorable, mostly because of a trustworthy formula that looks something like this:
Name of Song∞
Rudimentary, sure, but repeating the title of the track is a surefire way to at least achieve recognition status. For instance, a street punk band at my old high school used the formula for their song "Dollars for Death" in 2002. Oh, it was terrible, but everyone still remembers that damn song because the chorus was just "Dollars for death! Dollars for death!" Thankfully, Deadline's tunes are markedly less moronic.
Songs like "Nothing for Me," "Apathy" and "Anti-Christ" all benefit from some frantic repetition, but Christian Caron's snarling riffs and Brendan Canty's basic but badass percussion admirably embody D.C.'s early sound.
Blitzing album opener "I.C.A." finds our protagonists in fine form, especially vocalist Ray Hare, who surely deserves a spot next to Ian and Henry in the D.C. Vocalist Hall of Fame (opening Summer `09). Nowhere is he in better shape than on "Close Door," a relatively bumbling track that he single-handedly rescues when he snarls "Sick of the assholes / Sick of the bullshit / Don't need any of this / Fuck all of this." He's all attitude on every track, and he pulls a few songs out of the shitter with his brusque, hostile delivery. "Authority Figures" didn't really need ineffable vocals, but Hare provided them anyway, growling lines like "I've got my ideals / You've got a gun!" before the formulaic chorus of "Authority figures! False heroes!"
The band is most potent when their songs are kept to less than 50 seconds. There's no fucking around, no wasted motion; they just dive right into a tornado of buzzsaw guitars and group vocals. "Mad" is one of the disc's better tunes, with its constant stops and starts and shout-along chorus. "No End" would sound right at home on Minor Threat's discography, and "Anti-Christ" is alarming in its brevity and power.
Only a couple songs go wide of the mark, especially the album's closer, "Decayed," which, despite the date of its vintage, feels clichéd and crawls along like a wounded capybara. As luck would have it, it's the album's longest cut, clocking in at 1:34.
Deadline had all the traits of a classic D.C. hardcore group. Given a longer lifetime, they could have easily become as renowned as Minor Threat or any other gaggle of angry young men from the area. In fact, 8/2/82 might be the best album everyone forgot.