Release Date: Nov 20, 2012
Record label: Megaforce
Genre(s): Reggae, Dub, Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock, Punk/New Wave, Hardcore Punk, American Underground, Roots Reggae, American Punk
The last Bad Brains LP, 2007's Build A Nation, was produced by superfan Adam Yauch. So while the band's founders are remarkably all present, mortality shadows this set, which summons the raging schizophrenia of their Eighties glory days. HR’s vocals remain piercingly weird – Gregory Isaac smooth one minute, the next like Geddy Lee in a centrifuge.
It makes sense that precisely when the world is tipping the scales with new heights of chaos and absurdity that the Bad Brains would decide to step in and level things out with a little bit of that ol’ PMA. Into the Future is the band’s ninth full-length album and, like its predecessors, synthesizes its abrasive hardcore tendencies with undulating reggae rhythms, achieving a strange harmony—which is also heard within the constant tension between H.R.’s theatrical and schizophrenic vocals and Dr. Know’s ultraviolet guitars.
Following up 2007’s star-assisted Build a Nation (late Beastie Boy Adam Yauch produced, System of a Down’s Shavo Odadjian directed its first music video), Bad Brains are back with another album’s worth of positive, Jah-approved hardcore and reggae. Although none of its 13 tracks hit as hard as the early ’80s, “mash”-pit ragers that made them famous, they still sound vital on the Rasta-praising punk pummeler “Popcorn” and the 88-second frenzy “Yes I.” But, as always, the reggae numbers are a mixed bag: The bouncy outro to “Youth of Today,” for instance, sadly sounds like something Sublime might have attempted. KORY GROW .
D.C. punkers Bad Brains have achieved a well-deserved legendary status, built not just on their essential albums like Rock for Light and I Against I paving the way for years of hardcore to come, but also for being one of the first all-black groups in the predominantly white early punk scene. In the 30 years passing between Bad Brains' 1982 debut cassette and this album, multiple breakups, solo excursions, and reunions have ensued, and the 2000s and 2010s have been spotty times for this always tumultuous unit.
It’s been five years since the last Bad Brains record, which ended a 12-year hiatus for the seminal punk/reggae group. From the band’s inception in Washington D.C. during the late 1970s through its heyday in the mid-’80s, Bad Brains was the both the hardest of political hardcore and the most Rasta of reggae musicians not part of the Marley brethren.
About 12 years ago, I made a forlorn pilgrimage to a Bad Brains reunion show at a small venue in upstate New York that sat in the middle of a mini-mall. On the three-hour van ride there, I struggled mightily against my own unreasonable expectations. I had missed my chance by about 20 years to witness the Bad Brains of my imagination-- the ones you see immortalized in this iconic Glen Friedman photo, for instance-- perform live.
Into the Future, the new album by pioneering D.C. punk band Bad Brains, is a fascinating disappointment. It’s packed with riffs and rhythms as fierce as any in the band’s catalog, but the vocals… oh man, those vocals!...sabotage the effort. The “classic” Bad Brains lineup is behind the wheel here—drummer Earl Hudson, guitarist Dr.
From their shape-shifting lineups to a sound that has steadily evolved over time– from light-speed D.C. hardcore to include styles as varied as reggae, funk, metal, and soul– consistency has never been one of Bad Brains’ strong suits. Their on-and-off career has been checkered with peaks and valleys, landmark records (the band’s self-titled 1982 debut is still the standard by which most hardcore punk is measured) and cringe-worthy failures (anyone remember 1993’s Rise? No?).
The hardcore trailblazers may have another classic LP in them, but this isn’t it. Jimmy Martin 2012 Amongst the original US hardcore trailblazers of the 80s underground, no band was more incendiary or more controversial than Bad Brains. The fiery meld of jazz chops, demonic hyperspeed and devotional intensity they dealt out, along with their equal skill with both blistering punk and beatific reggae, have rightly made them the stuff of reverence and legend.