BL’AST! – Manic Ride

Posted: 5 March 2023 in Albums
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Southern Lord –10th March 2023

Christopher Nosnibor

Ask people to name a hardcore band and any money they’ll say Black Flag, but anyone who knows their stuff will likely also mention BL’AST. BL’AST stand as one of the definitive hardcore bands, formed in 1983 and releasing their first album, The Power of Expression in 1986, having recorded it three times.

The story goes – according to the band’s bio – that in June of 1988 BL’AST! went into the studio with Black Flags’ live sound GOAT: Dave Rat (RATSOUND), and the breakneck Take The Manic Ride was recorded. This version was later destroyed after the band was dissatisfied with the original production, with a rerecorded version being presented to the public in 1989.

It perhaps seems ironic that a band as raw and immediate as BL’AST should spend so much time faffing about in search of achieving the ‘perfect’ recording, when the finished article sounds so… unpolished. But of course, that’s the point and the key issue: many bands who are live acts first and foremost find their sound stunted, diminished, compressed and ultimately rendered weak and lacking in bite when attempting to capture the experience in a studio setting. The studio is a sterile environment, clinical, and few producers really get the concept of not actually producing a band. Hardcore is about tearing your guts out with vitriolic rage. The studio is never going to be the best environment for channelling it.

This is the stuff of music legend: the master tapes for that first version were destroyed and were never to be recovered, but as Southern Lord detail, ‘Through some incredibly magical surgery a new heavy as fuck version of the album has been produced.’

Perhaps predictably, Manic Ride is a mess of furious noise and aggression, abrasive and angry. While the Southern Lord reissue isn’t leagues different from the Blast First original, it’s very clearly a different mix. Hardcore (sorry) fans will likely be divided over the mix, whether it’s better or worse or whatever and there’s no right or wrong really. This version is crisper and clearer but also fuller.

What really matters is that this key album is back out there, and if it divides fans, fine. It’s back in the public domain, and will, with any luck, introduce new listeners to the band and their legacy.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s