Games Meet Metal: DJ's Double Review: Negative Approach and Witch Hunt

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Saturday, February 27, 2010

DJ's Double Review: Negative Approach and Witch Hunt

Although their influence clearly permeates most of today's hardcore/punk, it seems that very few remember this classic Detroit HC band from the early 80's. These guys were a tight bunch who took the original hardcore blueprint laid down by Black Flag, made it simpler, and added an extra dose of hoarse vocals and pure speed. In this sense, they can be thought of as a precursor to skatepunk and even grunge. Total Recall is a compilation of most of their recorded output, including a myriad of abysmal sounding live tracks which could quite literally be compared to scratching nails on a chalkboard.

However, the first 21 tracks are some of the best HC punk I've ever heard. Tracks 1-11 (sans "Lost Cause", although that track might as well have been on there too) are taken from their self-titled debut EP released in '81. NA were fast, tight, and capable of writing some truly anthemic punk rock that sounds fresh and invigorating even if they don't stray very far from the 80's hardcore norm. The lyrics aren't anything special, they're very blunt and reminiscent of an angrier Faith. The topics remain consistent throughout the album; "people I hate", as singer Brannon puts it. However, they're sung (or shouted, rather) with an unmistakable passion that makes it easy to overlook this minor deficiency.

Tracks 12-21 are taken from the "Tied Down" LP released two years later on Touch & Go Records. The songs here show more of a heavy metal flair, while still remaining rooted in hardcore punk. Fans of Broken Bones should really enjoy this portion of the compilation since it sounds almost exactly like that bands "Dem Bones" album. The lyrics are a bit better, but still focused mainly on personal issues. That's not to say that this is a bad thing, but a little variety would be nice. Like the first 11 songs, the writing and musicianship here is killer, except for "Evacuate" which seems like filler to me.

The live tracks that fill up the rest of the album are horrendous, as I mentioned earlier. Now, I'm aware that this is a live recording of an 80's punk album, but the sound quality here is atrocious even by those standards! This makes the latter portion of the JFA compilation disc sound good, and that's saying quite a bit if you ask me. But considering how incredible the first half of this cd is, I'd still give this a roaring Slaytanic, but leaning more towards the lower A- minus/B plus part, I'd say.

Mini Review- Witch Hunt: Burning Bridges to Nowhere (no picture available, sorry!)

As for Witch Hunt, their career is more current but ironically, even more obscure than NA. They hail from Pennsylvania and have been around for a while, and over time have forged a rather unique sound. Witch Hunt are a blend of the hard edged, political basis of crust punk, the screeching male/female duo vocals of Nausea, and the lush and serene melodic embellishments of Metal Circus era Husker Du. Their latest album, Burning Bridges to Nowhere, bring these influences to the forefront of their attack. This cd contains some rather weak tracks, but songs like Everyday, Silence, and the self-titled song are good enough to warrant a Rippin'.

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