Perhaps one of the biggest shocks of 2013 was the surprise new Black Flag album Greg Ginn dropped on the world wasn’t all that bad. Actually, the only thing truly awful about “What the…?” was the artwork, some hideous clipart from what seemed like an old Windows 95 databank that must have been deliberately chosen because of its ugliness.
It was a move that could certainly be surmised as a dig to Raymond Pettibon, the man behind nearly all of Black Flag’s iconic jackets in the ‘80s; Ginn may have given himself a good laugh by his dubious art direction. But the genius of Pettibon’s vision remains alive and well on the cover of the second full-length from OFF!, led by Black Flag expat Keith Morris.
Recorded live to tape in the band’s practice space, “Wasted Years” is 16 songs in 23 minutes, a good eight minutes longer than their previous LP. And, like their self-titled debut and the first four EPs before it, tracks like “Red White and Black,” the searing, quasi-psychedelic “Death Trip on the Party Train” and the pummeling “Meet Your God” finds the combination of Morris, guitarist Dimitri Coats of Burning Brides fame, Red Kross bassist Steven McDonald, and Rocket from the Crypt/Hot Snakes drummer Mario Rubalcaba once again firing on all cylinders, unleashing spontaneous blasts of old school 1981-style hardcore punk with the energy and conviction of a band half their collective age.
And, contrary to Ginn’s belief that any old image can serve as proper cover art, there really is nothing quite like admiring the ink of Raymond Pettibon, trying to figure out the weird story of this knife-wielding chick who wishes every boy was like her surfer boyfriend while listening to one of the loudest, proudest records to come out of 2014.
OFF! ‘Wasted Years’ Rating: W W W W V