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There was a substantial delay between Black Flag's first and second studio albums thanks to disagreements with the record company, but the equally pioneering 'My War' was well worth the wait, and remains one of the most inventive hardcore punk albums of all time - if it can even be classified so stringently.
There's a much greater emphasis on musicianship here than on the angry 'Damaged,' once again stemming mainly from Henry Rollins and Greg Ginn (who plays both guitar and bass on this album, the latter being credited to the fictitious Dale Nixon), and the band's experiments with a slower, draining style of doom metal would subsequently influence an entire generation of sludge and grunge bands, or really any band playing in a genre that takes its name from something dirty-sounding.
The guitar tone is deep and dirty throughout, whether Ginn is playing slow or fast, and although Rollins is required to use his spoken word style more prominently here, there are still many notable instances of his distinctive passionate screaming, particularly in the first six songs. After this point the album makes a radical shift towards songs that are twice the length (averaging six minutes apiece rather than three), and consequently a great deal slower.
The influence would seem to be Black Sabbath, among other bands inspired by the original masters of doom, and although the songs do tend to drag on, the experiment is wholly successful and must have surprised many contemporary listeners, the first time they turned the LP over and were confronted by a band that had obviously been smoking something pretty strong between sides.
'My War' is my favourite Black Flag album mostly for striking a perfect balance between aggression and melody, especially in songs like the similarly long (but not too slow) 'Can't Decide,' with its narrative lyrics, fun solo and some compelling drumming from Bill Stevenson, while the fast/slow dichotomy of 'Beat My Head Against the Wall' works similarly excellently. This album doesn't have the same classic status as 'Damaged,' which is understandable, but it showcases a more mature and experimental Black Flag that would remain strong throughout the rest of its career.
1. My War
2. Can't Decide
3. Beat My Head Against the Wall
4. I Love You
5. Forever Time
6. The Swinging Man
7. Nothing Left Inside
8. Three Nights
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 My War
2 Can't Decide
3 Beat My Head Against The Wall
4 I Love You Goodbye
5 Forever Time
6 Swinging Man
7 Nothing Left Inside
8 Three Nights