Negative Approach - Total Recall (Cover Artwork)

Negative Approach

Total Recall (1992)

Touch and Go

Take a look at the cover of this CD: a blurry visage of a man screaming defiantly at a microphone as if it's a snake wrapped around his throat, trying to choke off his last breath. That should tell you all you need to know.

Not satisfied with that? Fine, I'll explain.

From the machine-gun drumfire on the gang-chanted chorus of "Ready to Fight" to the ten-second hailstorm of undiluted rage that is "Pressure," this compilation of songs by Detroit hardcore legends Negative Approach (NA) simply radiates aggression in a way that few others are capable of. It's almost as though no instruments are involved at all, just a toggle switch to turn on the explosive, visceral anger and to turn it off when you can't take it anymore.

Vocalist John Brannon sounds raspy, hoarse and semi-intelligible at times because he's yelling that fucking loud, the kind of full-on, eyes-clenched-shut screaming that can burst blood vessels in your neck. Behind him is a crack team of musicians who fire off high-speed, ground-pounding bursts of pure hardcore goodness that doesn't care if it sounds nice or not. From the second you put your headphones on, press play and "Lost Cause" kicks in, you are blasted straight in the face with a firehose-like torrent of frustration, cynicism, disappointment, alienation and fury disguised as really loud, angry music. Just as your beleagured brain starts to catch up and process what the first verse was, the song comes immediately to a halt -- a chance to catch your breath, and to allow the band's sticks and strings to cool down. The second track, "Can't Tell No One" kicks in two seconds later and you're back in the ring again. Think you can hang in there for a dozen more rounds? You've still got a handful of rarities and live tracks at the end of this comp to look forward to. Hang in there, champ.

The music of NA is not just noise for the sake of being noisy, though. The band can actually play their instruments, and anthems such as "Nothing," with its memorable bass-line and catchy drumming, deserve a place in the hardcore trophy case alongside classics such as "Rise Above" and "Pay to Cum." It's also worth mentioning how the vocal style and in-your-face intimidating stage presence of John Brannon influenced many hardcore and metal acts to come in the following years, from Pantera to Hatebreed. All in all, for the thirteen bucks or so this CD will set you back, you'll get a prime selection of 100% old-school hardcore, free of keyboards, filler, black nail polish and melodrama. If this sort of thing isn't for you, that's fine. There's a whole Hot Topic full of Atreyu records waiting for you. I think NA says it best: Why be something that you're not?