After a lengthy battle with their original label Black Flag returned with 1984's My War. The band had absorbed a wide range of influences since their first full length, Damaged. The doom metal of Saint Vitus (who released via SST) and the more experimental hardcore of Flipper, Void, and Fang are all present on My War. They took in early influences as well, turning to Black Sabbath, the MC5, and the Stooges for new approaches to their own music. The resulting music was march darker than the humor filled anthems of Damaged. The snot nosed punk approach of early recordings was done away with in favor of a new focus on gloom, depression, defeatism, and aggression. The first half of the record contains the high-powered hardcore punk that the band had become known for. It closes with the freak out of "The Swinging Man" but leaves no clue as to what is to come on the B side. "Nothing Left Inside" reveals the sludge metal sound that the band had been exploring. It's a fitting introduction to the three tracks that make up the second half of the album. There is plenty of self hate wallowing in the slower tempos and extended takes. Needless to say, My War was a polarizing album for Black Flag fans. While many of their hardcore punk followers would deride the second half of the album it would go on to influence a world of bands including the Melvins, Mudhoney, and Nirvana.
reviewed by ninetwofour 06/0215