The Zero Boys | Vicious Circle (Secretly Canadian)

cd_zeroboys.jpgFor those of us who spent our youths steeped in the genre, though, we remember that the short, punctuated quality of the songs was part of their appeal.

 

 

 

 

 

I live 25 miles from my day job and just listened to all 16 tracks of Vicious Circle on my way in with time to spare. That’s because all 16 tracks are early 1980s hardcore, rarely clocking in at more than two minutes. For those of us who spent our youths steeped in the genre, though, we remember that the short, punctuated quality of the songs was part of their appeal, and that stripping the music of its elongated solos and pretentiousness was the whole point in the first place.

The controlled chaos of the opening title track is cut short by the second track, "Amphetamine Addiction," which sets in motion the old-school punk motif that is found in each following song, creating a cohesiveness for the album that is rare in most other types of music. The idea that if you’re in the mood to listen to any one of the songs on this album, you’ll be in the mood for the rest of them reminds us that the hardcore scene of the 1980s was polarized in that, once someone was hooked by it, it would usually influence the rest of his or her tastes.

This is not to say that every song sounds the same, though, no matter what the incarnation of your parents from your high school years might have told you. "Civilization’s Dying," with its thinly veiled reference to the shootings of Ronald Reagan, John Lennon and Pope John Paul II, is a charged statement about gun control which flows into "Livin’ in the 80s," an expression of distaste for the idolization of old rock icons over current musical accomplishments. Later on the pace is brought down with the slower, more introspective "Trying Harder," which is by far also the longest track at just over three minutes.

After over a quarter century, Vicious Circle has come full circle as a reminder of the deposits of talent that were left in middle America when the hardcore scene sprawled from D.C. to L.A. The entire album was laid down in less than two days in a handful of live-to-tape sessions and still stands as a stark example of the welding together of hardcore grit and hook-filled melody. B | Jason Neubauer

RIYL: The Vandals, Battalion of Saints, The Descendents, A.F.I.

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