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What The...

Black Flag

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iTunes Editors’ Notes

If your idea of Black Flag is Greg Ginn’s twisted guitar playing, then 2013’s What The… will resonate quite a bit. On this—the first Black Flag studio album since 1985’s In My Head—vocalist Ron Reyes (a.k.a. Chavo Pederast), who appeared on the 1980 Jealous Again EP, returns as frontman, and new drummer Gregory Amoore holds down whatever rhythmic component still exists. This reignition of the classic punk brand was inspired by the recent formation of FLAG—a different band led by former Black Flaggers Keith Morris and Chuck Dukowski. Black Flag had always been a confusing group. Their early punk singles and EPs featured a constant shuffle of lead singers, and after their debut studio album—the classic Damaged—they struggled with albums that often sounded like slow heavy metal. A few great songs along the way and the presence of steady singer Henry Rollins at live shows built their legions. Now, What The… mostly buries Chavo’s vocals underneath a maelstrom of Ginn’s gnarly riffs, which makes the songs plenty loud but incapable of becoming the anthems that old Flag drew up regularly. 

Customer Reviews

A nearly unlistenable album...

In my opinion no other band of the 80s matched Black Flag’s energy and creativity. I actually enjoy listening to Flag’s later/heavier stuff, the My War, Slip It In and Loose Nut albums, than their earlier stuff. So this album would naturally build off of those, right? Unlike the rest of these reviews I’ve actually listened to the whole album and it was by far the hardest album I’ve sat through. After I heard Ginn was reforming Black Flag with Ron Reyes, I have to admit Reyes would have to be the last singer I would have picked, but whatever.

I really wanted to give this new line-up a chance, believe me. I tried to overlook the two very lackluster singles, suing former members, refusing to pay royalties and that god-awful artwork. But after listening to this album it seems Mr. Ginn has lost all sense of talent or musical ability he possessed with the previous incarnation of the band, if you want at all to call this Black Flag. After about the fourth or fifth song they all started to sound the same, plus who could have ever expected the theremin solos?

This album also possesses some of the worst production I can think of. I don’t get if it was Ginn’s intention all along, but drums are barely audible with the exception of a couple of solos. Ginn’s bass is super clunky and completely above all other instruments. What little lyrics that are audible are laughable; like something a fourteen year-old who just discovered punk rock would have written. Reyes has no range and shouts the lyrics for the entire album.

Serious what is with 14 songs running under 2 minutes? Does Ginn think this is 1980 and the Rollins stuff never happened? If I didn’t know this line-up and album was a sincere attempt at reviving one of the best punk bands of all time, I’d think Ginn would be attempting to do everything in his power to destroy the immense legacy and image of his former band.


Without Rollins this is simply a poor attempt to get some cash on a iconic 80s institution.

Album Cover Boycott

I am boycotting this album due to the cover. After all those Pettibon covers... they come up with this? I don't even care what it sounds like. Not one bit.


Formed: 1977 in Hermosa Beach, CA

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '10s

In many ways, Black Flag was the definitive Los Angeles hardcore punk band. Although their music flirted with heavy metal and experimental noise and jazz more than that of most hardcore bands, they defined the image and the aesthetic. Through their ceaseless touring, the band cultivated the American underground punk scene; every year, Black Flag played in every area of the U.S., influencing countless numbers of bands. Although their recording career was hampered by a draining lawsuit, which was followed...
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