I’ve listened to the brand-new Black Flag record, What the . . . , their first new release after a nearly 30-year break, all the way through three times today. Black Flag is possibly my favorite band of all time, a band that I hold in very high regard in terms of musicianship, songwriting, aesthetic, ethics, and ideals, so it was really hard for me to even bring myself to listen to the new record, which seems almost like a cash-in for sole constant member Greg Ginn. The release of the record itself was surrounded by a blitz of controversy, feuds, lawsuits, and drama—at the core it all seemed to be some of the most un-Black Flag shit on earth, so I was apprehensive to even press play. When I was listening to What the. . . , I ran the gamut of emotions while trying to wrap my head around what I was hearing. I flashed through moments of pure excitement, waves of disgust, and a whole lot of confusion. But the one thing I felt the most was the burning desire to hear some classic Flag. So today’s 12 O’Clock Track is just that: “My War,” off the 1984 record of the same name, one of the toughest tracks of all time. This is where the band started moving away from standard hardcore punk and into dark, sludgy, sonic misery. A true masterpiece, if you ask me.
And how about a brutal live version from 1985?