F-Minus - F-Minus (Cover Artwork)


F-Minus (1999)


Pop in the record and this is what you first hear: guitar feedback...some guy says "Slave Labor"...someone shouts "1-2-3-4!" And southern California hardcore punks F-Minus are off and sprinting like it's 1981 again, bashing your skull in again and again and again, courtesy of twenty old-school hardcore blasts in 17 minutes. That's right, you can play this fucker three times in an hour and not get bored of it. Taking a cue from Victim In Pain-era Agnostic Front and Minor Threat while adding grind and street punk elements, this is a band intent on maximizing the bedlam factor by being as insanely fast, loud, confrontational, and ugly as possible.

Producer Tim Armstrong lets the band do their thing as dueling slurrers/screamers/shouters Brad Logan and Jen Johnson spit out politically-charged rants as fast as they can in a contest of who can sound more indecipherable and pissed off. Future screamer Erika Daking joins the riot with blistering guitar work while Adam Zuckert's jackhammer drumming gets the job done.

Perfecting the art of getting their message across by cutting out every single ounce of conceivable fat that can be found in a song, the first three songs go by so fast, even combining them into one song would still make for an incredibly short track. But F-Minus are experts here at making up for lack of length with sheer force. And before you get any chance to realize what the hell you just heard, they've already blitzed through another song, so be prepared. Jen Johnson's first stab in the 39-second "Better To Die" maintains the manic intensity established by Logan as she screams "It's better to die, than live a fucking lie!" Other examples of F-Minus' mostly bleak and distorted outlook on politics, life, and society (for God's sake, the cover is F-Minus typed three times in red on a black cover) can be found in the street punk-influenced song "Class Machine" as well as "Empty" which is all of Logan yelling "empty, I'm so empty!" Subtle they ain't.

The back to back of "Class Machine" and another Johnson-led song "Spit At The Truth" should make you want to start circle pitting with anyone in your immediate vicinity. My favorite track "Someone's Dream" starts off with a "1-2-1-2-3!" before blasting into another sub-minute crusher. "Ruined," in what seems to have been recorded in a cave, gives you generous two second pauses to breathe before slamming you with another fast as fuck track.

F-Minus and bands like F-Minus are an acquired taste for sure and that's why what I'm about to say should not make you question my mental health. Underneath all the chaos, F-Minus incorporates actual groove and dare I say it, a hint of melody, in enough of their songs to give them an extra edge and a step up on other hardcore bands. They take those ingredients and take another step forward on their next record. Their weapon of choice is speed and while a bit repetitive at times, still makes some powerful shit.

Yea, they would've fit in perfectly opening up for Black Flag and Minor Threat.