OFF!’s self titled debut album is a punk essential. On that record, the hardcore supergroup – then featuring ex-Black Flag/Circle Jerks vocalist Keith Morris, Redd Kross bassist Steven McDonald and Burning Brides guitarist Dimitri Coates – captured a pure sound that served up the energy of Circle Jerks’ ‘Group Sex’ LP mixed with a mounting anger, packing seventeen songs into as many minutes. Hardcore was alive and well in 2012, and Morris, especially, showed how he’d lost absolutely none of the fury that powered his formative years, despite later Circle Jerks albums suggesting otherwise. That album’s follow up, 2014’s ‘Wasted Years’ stretched the formula to allow for a few extended instrumental sections without sacrificing any of the band’s genuine fire, further proving that OFF! were one of the greatest hardcore bands of their era, before they seemed to disappear. It’s unsurprising, really; a band honestly can’t present themselves so intensely for long without reaching burnout.
In the run up to the release of this cassette, Bleeders had been steadily building a following on the live circuit on their home turf of Pennsylvania and the surrounding areas. That sort of makes sense since they have a sound that would surely work much better live; on record, their no-frills, no-wave, distorted, zero budget approach is hellishly ugly. So much so, that it makes label mates The Meltaways seem like a manufactured, multi-million dollar, radio groomed pop rock trio by direct comparison. The recording of ‘Gash’ is so raw and unrelentingly grotesque, it borders on being unlistenable. Looking at it another way, it’s so hard going, that’s an achievement in itself.
After a handful of EP releases, OFF!’s debut album (released in the summer of 2012) was the year’s best punk record. Possibly even the best punk record of the previous decade. The combined talents of ex-Black Flag/Circle Jerks frontman Keith Morris and Redd Kross man Steve McDonald was always likely to result in something fairly explosive, but OFF! really pushes their ferocity to brilliant extremes.
It has been reported that OFF!’s upcoming tour dates have all been cancelled.
Lead vocalist Keith Morris recently slipped into a diabetic coma and is taking time out to recover. In addition to being OFF!’s frontman, Morris is also involved with Flag, a band including other former Black Flag members. Flag have been booked to appear at the Punk Rock Bowling Festival in Las Vegas in May. So far, this – and Flag’s other prior shows – remain unaffected.