Discharge: Cal (vocals); Bones (guitar); Rainy (bass); Tez (drums, background).
This 2001 release is the comeback album for the U.K. proto- hardcore band formed in 1977 by the twin brothers Tony and Terry Roberts. Discharge began as a classic 1977-style punk band before Clay Records picked it up in 1979; the band's sound developed into a high-speed noise overload best heard on its Realities of War debut EP recorded for Clay and released in 1980. With the Lurkers' producer and label manager Mike Stone on production duties, in short, punk was changed forever with this release, and the hardcore and grindcore scenes were given the seed that informed the countless groups that emulated the Discharge sound. Along with the Anti-Nowhere League, Chron Gen, Anti-Pasti, and the Exploited, the group injected a new rage into the dying U.K. punk scene by fusing the abrasive metallic noise of Motörhead to the political sentiments of Crass. The classic albums and EPs from the peak period 1980 to 1983 are essential listening for fans of hardcore and punk. Hear Nothing, See Nothing, Say Nothing and Why are both ferocious noise blasts well worthy of repeated listens, and later '80s recordings Warning... and Price of Silence are still fathomable after the fact -- much in the way that Bad Brains records from the same era remain utterly timeless adrenaline kicks. However, the group took an awkward and somewhat failed diversion into heavy metal in the late '80s, which at the time saw them subjected to ridicule from the hardcore punk community as they attempted to make a mainstream MTV version of their aggressive sound. Grave New World was the first step in the disaster that put their heads in the sand for at least a decade after retiring in 1987, subsequently re-forming in a dubious session band incarnation of Discharge in 1991 for more punishment with the hard rock album Massacre Divine. Another debacle followed in 1995, entitled Shootin' Up the World, with vocalist Cal shooting for AC/DC-range vocal gymnastics. By late 1997, Discharge had come full circle, and its classic lineup of Cal, Bones, Tezz, and Rainy Wainwright restored credibility with punk's old guard and recorded this self-titled disc in the summer of 2001. An unlikely return to the old familiar sound of two decades prior, the re-formed Discharge got back to its roots and cut an astonishing slab of noise in the tradition of Hear Nothing, See Nothing, Say Nothing. The album represents one of the more successful re-formations of a group that managed to miraculously carry some of its old energy into a new era, which is a mean feat for a punk group whose spark was pure adolescent rage. ~ Skip Jansen