OFF! is a punk rock super-group made up of members of Redd Kross, Hot Snakes and Burning Brides and fronted by Keith Morris of Circle Jerks/Black Flag fame. To be honest, from that much information you can probably already determine what this release will sound like. It’s a short, fast hardcore punk release that harks back the glory days of the genre in the 1980s. On first listen, my thoughts were basically “so what”. All the pieces that make up the great hardcore records are there but something is missing that I couldn’t quite put my finger on. So, I went back and listened to some of Morris’ Circle Jerks and Black Flag material and realized that all those songs have a kind of charm and memorability that these tracks are lacking. It’s one thing to have high energy songs played at breakneck speed but there has to be something that makes them stick if they’re going to have any impact.However, I’m not saying that this is a terrible release. After a few listens, I found myself really starting to get into the songs. Musically, the band really knows what they’re doing and they absolutely slaughter a lot of the young bands I’ve heard trying to play in this style. Guitarist Dimitri Coats’ guitar solo on “Upside Down” is a perfect example of using a minimal amount of notes to great effect. Keith Morris also shows with his vocals that he’s still got it, they sound just as desperate and passionate as they always have; best exemplified on “Darkness”.
This EP is part of a release entitled First Four EPs that, as the name suggests, is basically four EPs that make up a 16 track full length. To me, this seems like a novelty more than anything but, if the music is solid, I guess we shouldn’t complain. If you’re a fan of early hardcore and are really dying to hear some new music, then pick this up. It can’t really be called essential listening though so it’s perhaps best to leave this record to the diehards.