Friday, January 21, 2011
You've probably heard a story like the Zero Boys' before. A small group of misguided young men see the light when they discover the Dead Kennedys' album Fresh Fruit for Rotten Vegetables. They then decide to form a band and do everything they can to look like The Clash. Vicious Circle is a perfect example of both the creativity and the copycatitivity (I couldn't think of a better word there so I made one up) of the early 80s hardcore scene. One look at the album cover and one might get the impression that the Zero Boys were just another fly-by-night hardcore band. The gruesome face appears to only be there because it's gruesome. The cliché word "vicious" doesn't help either. Lyrically, the songs deal with pretty much exactly what you'd think. Song titles like "Civilizations Dying" and "Livin' in the 80s" show their disdain for the world in which they were living, a disdain shared by many punks of the time. "New Generation" shows their hope for the youth and there are even a few straight-edge numbers like "Hightime" and "Drug Free Youth." But yet they don't sound angry. The singer has somewhat of a snarl but it's not convincing. That's not to say it's bad, however. It sounds as if he enjoys being in a band too much to sing with much ferocity, and the music matches this. The relatively clean thumping bass matched with the treble-heavy guitars makes this album more fun than angry. They're much more like their inspirators the Dead Kennedys than Minor Threat, for example. I don't know if I'd go as far to say that this is a lost masterpiece of the hardcore era, but it definitely deserves its cult status.