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The Last War 1980-84

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Album Review

Heart Attack was as good as any band on the early '80s New York hardcore punk scene, and were — Bad Brains aside — the most exciting. They were like a sped-up Clash, with their jackhammer thrills and blasting, primitive, but oddly tight-wound sound. The killer God is Dead 7" perfectly documented what I speak of and comprises tracks 14-16 on this chronological disc. Two later 12" EPs were good too; the first EP, Keep Your Distance, suffered from awful, muddy sound, and the latter, Subliminal Seduction, traded a little of that intensity for a new sophistication — as vocalist Jesse Malin turned, oh, 15 (ha!) and grew tired of the new bandwagon-jumping hardcore copycats. As good as these are, the real finds are the Mojo Demos, which captures the early mainlining stuff. You can all but see this precocious kid with a big boy's brain and his pals hopping all over the stage like a 33 RPM record at 45, in their "combat boots, crew cuts, and ripped t-shirts," as Bryan Swirsky remembers in his liner notes. You can hear the mixture of Malin's evident zeal and believable snarl that barely hid the excitement these guys had unleashing their pent-up energy, and how frenzied but controlled it all still sounds. You didn't "have to be there," in other words. Get past the first five tracks, which is lesser '77 punk from grade school days, though even those aren't bad. Faster than punk but slower than the later thrash, put them up against the way-lesser Dischord bands of the era, and you'll like the group even more. Heart Attack were a far cry from Malin's 20s, leading D Generation, or his solo output. But what a prodigy he was. A life of rock 'n' roll sure came from this outrageous wellspring!

The Last War 1980-84, Heart Attack
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