"OFF!" OFF. In late 2010, the punk-rock supergroup OFF! released a series of seven-inch singles that sounded like an exact version of early-'80s hard-core in its prime. Later compiled under the collection "The First 4 EPs," those short, round blasts of vintage underground thrash were the product of a collaboration of generations of punk royalty.
Singer Keith Morris was the original vocalist for the legendary Black Flag in late '70s, and later fronted the equally influential Circle Jerks throughout the '80s, with a few reunions in the '90s. Bass player Steve McDonald was one half of the creative force behind Redd Kross, a punk outfit started in his teens that later incorporated elements of pop with classic hard rock and heavy metal in a move that heavily influenced the grunge movement. Mario Rubalcaba spent time behind the drum kit for both Rocket From the Crypt and Hot Snakes, while guitarist/producer Dimitri Martin -- who hones OFF!'s aesthetic in the studio -- fronts acclaimed hard rockers Burning Brides.
The band has followed up with its first proper self-titled full-length, and little has changed as far as technique. It's 17 songs in less than 15 minutes; full-throttle, white-knuckled and kicking in your front door. It doesn't have quite the same impact this time around, if only because those starved for this sort of thing were so ecstatic to hear this pure of a form of punk being played again so convincingly.
Then again, changing up things in the spirit of creative growth runs counter to what makes OFF! work. Despite that, you can hear the dynamics shift a bit with sludgier breakdowns and subtle shifts in velocity.
Songs such as "Cracked," "Toxic Box" and "Wiped Out" should fit the bill for anyone looking for something one would hear in '80s skate videos in the years before Tony Hawk was a household name -- which isn't in any way a marginalization of the band's talents. This is the pure stuff, the way a band sounds when it is hungry and out to win hearts and minds.
OFF! does not seem like a project of over-the-hill veterans looking for some sort of self-congratulatory victory lap, but more like wily veterans fully tapped back into the source.