Black Face - Black Face [7-inch] (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Black Face

Black Face [7-inch] (2011)

Hydra Head Records

Eugene Robinson, vocalist for Black Face, opens the record by screaming "I will kill you! I want to kill you! I will kill you!" His volume and anger are so intense it sounds like his windpipe is about to collapse from strain. It's interesting that the band is already at their wits end, as this is their debut release. But, perhaps the band's deceased ancestor is the fuel for this bands primal screaming.

Black Flag's Chuck Dukowski, who plays bass, stated about five years ago on his website that punk was dead and it was time to dance on its corpse, and that's just what Black Face is doing. Composed of Robinson (Oxbow), Dukowski, Milo Gonzales (insects vs. robots), and Tom Dobrov, the band is recording Dukowski-penned Black Flag tracks from the My War era that were never recorded.

Just as that era of the band was one of its most violative and anguished, "I Want To Kill You," the A-side, finds Robinson at the end of his rope. Comparisons to the Rollins era are inevitable, and while both Rollins and Robinson share a common sense of exasperation, Robinson seems almost inhuman. Rollins' screaming on My War's "I Love You" seemed to be an identifiable aspect for many young males, perhaps with their own emotions amplified. But, when Robinson goes not go for the attack, he ceases to be ID given flesh, but rather some otherworldly element that exists if only to let others know that danger exists, and it cannot be forecast.

As with My War, the track retains a very punk sound, but the riffs seem to shift and twist from the standard hardcore mold, leaving the soul of the genre in place by twisting the form into something grotesque. Meanwhile, Dukowski backs the howling with his thick, frantic, bass, that is unique its ability to switch from a rocking swing to an arrhythmic skitter. Because the bass seems to change time suddenly, Robinson's own strikes seem even more sudden, giving the whole recording a very unpredictable and almost jazz like feel.

The flipside, "Monster," is something of a spotlight for Gonzales. With the rhythm slowed down, Robinson and Dukowski continue their slashing, but Gonzales's guitar is dropped in the front. A combination of Jimi Hendrix blues-based improv and Black Flag founder Greg Ginn's own rapid string skipping, Gonzales style jolts around only to explode into a grim note. It is interesting that Gonzales, who is Dukoski's son, shares similarities with Ginn's inimitable style, because Dukowski and Ginn were never known for getting along, particularly in the past five years or so.

With a tour scheduled for 2012 (with Black Flag tunes on the setlist!) and two more seven-inches rumored, Black Face seems to be equally interested in preserving the past as moving forward. If there was ever a band best suited to drag a corpse out of the ground, display it to the audience, and then dance on it, this is it.