It's common knowledge now that punk music has significantly impacted the evolution of heavy metal. But what about the evolution of punk rock? Personally, this is a subject that I haven't "deeply" explored, yet it's still something that I would regard as interesting. The late 1970's was a time of division within the punk scene, which resulted in the emergence of sub-genres such as post-punk and hardcore punk. At the very heart of hardcore punk, there's Black Flag.
The early years of Black Flag's career deserve special recognition. In 1978 they released their debut ep "Nervous Breakdown". With only four short songs you could still tell this group was taking punk music in a faster, heavier and borderline psychotic direction. The next couple of years were marked by numerous line up changes. The cool part about this period was that regardless of the line up changes, Black Flag managed to keep progressing on their established sound. How the quality of the music kept improving is a testament to Greg Ginn's visionary drive as a songwritter.
In 1981, Black Flag released their first full length album "Damaged". Often regarded as a classic within the hardcore scene, this was more than just an album; it was the musical expression of true angst. Musically, these 15 songs demonstrated very tight and diverse riffs packed into explosive punk rock song structures. Looking back, one of the most interesting moments this album had to offer was the final track, "Damaged I". In contrast to the others, this song showcased heavy distortion at a much slower tempo, as if challenging the pre-existing notion that hardcore punk had to be fast.
"Damaged" also featured the debut of vocalist Henry Rollins. Regarding Black Flag vocalists, I always preferred Rollins because his harsh vocals seemed to mix in perfectly with the aggressive tone of the music. In fact I would argue that he set the precedent for the "traditional" hardcore vocal style which has been emmulated through out recent decades. Whether I'm correct in my assertion is open to debate, but the fact that Mr. Rollins was an influential vocalist is a closed case.
So much more can be said about Black Flag, like maybe something about their intense live performances or their ethic of self-promotion. Anyway, if you're thirsty and miserable then grab a six pack and have a Black Flag party tonight!