Discharge / Off With Their Heads - Split [7-inch] (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Discharge / Off With Their Heads

Split [7-inch] (2011)

Drunken Sailor

Although one would be hard pressed to find a thread of similarity between the two contributors to the Discharge/Off With Their Heads split, the seemingly disparate artists cut tunes that work surprisingly well against each other.

Discharge, now in its 35th year, cuts "Legacy Left Behind," a song that embraces their "classic material" as much as it updates it. With Rat Martin on vocals and founding member Tony Roberts on guitar, the band thrashes through an indictment of poor decisions made by political leaders. Although the song is fashioned in classic D-beat thrash (and avoiding Discharge's unfortunate latter day metal explorations), the band cleans up its instrumentation. They keep their wall of sound energetic and crushing, but also bring out the solid melody of the song, something many early Discharge tunes had trouble doing. The track shows that now that the band is able to put a full retrospection on their past selves, they're able to cherry pick the best parts and tie them all together in a song that represents the band, but not in a way that is able to be pin-pointed to a particularl era.

On the flipside, Off With Their Heads contribute a song that is as unusual in its construction as the band's lineup, but fits perfectly well alongside their U.K. companion's smashing. Much like Discharge's rotating lineup, on this song, OWTH is malleable, featuring Ryan Young on vocals and guitars, Jimmy of Toys that Kill on drums and the legendary Mike Watt on bass. The song itself is an unrecorded cut by Bill McFadden of the Belltones. But, while such a slipshod ensemble and writing process is a recipe for disaster, miraculously, the song comes across as a perfectly formed song in the classic punk vein. In contrast to Discharge's national politics, "Never Run" is a tale of socio-politics between two people. Supported by a classic-sounding chorus, the song takes a familiar punk structure and makes it feel more like a timeless composition than a formula. In fact, the song snaps together so well, I would not be surprised if it comes to define the band entirely… Plus, their cover of the split is as hilarious as it is clever as it is gross.

Punk is often categorized into eras, but really, that's a myopic view. the entire genre is one constant stream that is constantly changing. This release shows how one era connects to other, and also shows how the eras themselves are in a constant state of flux… and it's for the best.