[40] Bad Brains – I Against I

10 Jan

I can vividly imagine dancing to this eclectic mash-up of punk-pop and ska-metal at my beloved Hungry Years in the early 90s. 

I Against 1

I Against 1











I never did – I had never even heard the name Bad Brains before discovering The List – but I can imagine it, in a set alongside the Ramones, NIN, Scatterbrain, perhaps early Adam Ant.

This is just the kind of sound and attitude we loved back then.

Reading about the band, the two terms that get throw around more than any other are Hardcore and Reggae, but both are very misleading.  The band itself aggressively disagreed with the former – the level of color and shading, of subtlety would seem to back them up.  And at least musically, at least on this album, the latter just doesn’t show itself much beyond the title.

The blend of sounds that I do hear, however, is well suited to my musical tastes.

There are layers of warm, crunchy power chords with plenty of twiddling over the top; an ongoing conversation between guitars and vocals; catchy screaming riffs and rambling solos with effects reminiscent of the metal gods of the time like Malmsteen and Vai;  not to mention epic time signature experimentation, tight and unexpected and purposeful.

The vocal style is not my favorite – especially when the lead singer, HR, is shouting for effect with little attempt at melody or nuance as on “House Of Suffering” – but he shows just enough range and touch on tracks like “Re-Ignition” and “Secret 77” to keep me from giving up on the whole thing.

In the end, driving and infectious, this is far easier on the ear than I had expected.  Even if at times it does seem to foreshadow the grunge sound that would ooze out of Seattle half a decade later.

Owned before blogging? No. (2 of 40. 5%)
Heard before blogging? No. (4 of 40. 10%)
Recommend? Yes. (34 of 40. 85%)

Next week: Erykah Badu – Mama’s Gun


One Response to “[40] Bad Brains – I Against I”

  1. Phil Sheldon January 10, 2014 at 10:22 AM #

    Haven’t come across Bad Brains often either; I do remember a track I really liked back in the mid 90s though called ‘God of Love’; awesome tune. I’m going to check them out again 🙂

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