Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Bad Brains Classic “I Against I” Is A Must-Listen For Hardcore Punk/Heavy Metal Fans.

March 28, 2020 by  
Filed under Ent., Music, Opinion, Weekly Columns

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(ThyBlackMan.com) After a wild debut album in 1982 and a cleaner but still electric follow up in 1983, we arrive in 1986. Bad Brains has been around as a band since 1977 at this point. They’ve done in helping to mold hardcore punk in the early 1980s.

Like many artists nearing their first decade around, they start to taking notice of creative peers. Sometimes, it’s across genres which is how new genres pop up. The thing is, during this period there is often a change in that artist’s output. It could be a change in tone, sound, maturity of lyrics and song writing—anything.

Bad Brains was around the rise of heavy metal. Also, there were bands mixing funk with hard rock. It was the birth of new sounds that would define and dominate part of the next decade. The band took their influences in and were already working on their next album I Against I.

The Best of the Bad Brain 80s Trilogy: I Against I

It’s 1986 and Bad Brains drops I Against I. This was a different Bad Brains. It wasn’t the same dangerous D.C band that released Rock for Light! Now, I Against I had new tracks, cleaner production, a new sound, and some familiar stuff for the faithful.

The best way I can describe I Against I’s sound is that it sounded early to the party. I’d be wrong since a lot of the funk metal and alternative metal bands formed around this period. Those bands’ hottest period wouldn’t be until early 90s but they were around.

The point is that Bad Brains’ sound here mixes that energy and edge from hardcore punk with the vibe from funk.

A-Side Score: 9/10

Bad Brains came in hot in the instrumental heading right into “I Against I.” The faster-paced songs on this album don’t have the same wild energy as the first albums. Instead, we have speedy tracks that are better focused. Do they still rock on the A-side? Yes! Bad Brains definitely still has the skill and speed down but they’re more proficient.

“Re-Ignition” is a heavy but mid-tempo track that makes use of H.R’s grasp of reggae vocals. The A-side ends with my favorite track on the album “Secret 77.” It’s roughly the same as “Re-Ignition” tempo-wise only it builds up from a slower pace. It’s a song that really works but doesn’t define the A-side.

B-Side Score: 7.5

The B-side starts off with my second favorite track “Let Me Help.” Remember when Bad Brains—the band’s debut—ran with the same formula for both sides? They started off fast on both before ending slow. That’s the formula here.

A slower tune is “She’s Calling You” which I dig. This was the song that took a while to grow on me. I just wasn’t taking to the song at all but it’s a good one. “Sacred Love” is another slow rocker that defines the direction of I Against I. Hearing it and you know Bad Brains is taking things in a totally different direction—even though the A-side should’ve shown that much.

The album ends with “Hired Gun” and “Return to Heaven.” These two keep the pace of the remainder of the album but I like the approach with “Hired Gun.” It has a little bit of an edge to it without being overly aggressive or over the top.

I Against I Verdict: 8.25/10 (Recommended)

Bad Brains’ third offering was a more focused release. It’s consistent in its own way and that always works. Where this album fell with me is that I needed more songs with a faster tempo. Or rather, the arrangement of songs on the album didn’t work for me.

Towards the end, I Against I starts to slow down before finishing out on the slow end. However, that can be overlooked when you see where the band was going with this direction and how consistent the songs are with that direction.

There’s not this strong sense that the band wanted to experiment but kept some of the old direction as an escape plan. Bad Brains went all-in on I Against I’s direction and it worked.

Staff Writer; M. Swift

This talented writer is also a podcast host, and comic book fan who loves all things old school. One may also find him on Twitter at; metalswift.

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