Without question the best release of 2011, and quite frankly one of the finest releases in the history of all living things, Polish label Get By Records has achieved maximum excellence with the release of this almost complete discography from what I view as the absolute greatest European hardcore band of all time: Norway's Lash Out. For my money, these guys are the single most underrated hardcore band of the 90's. Period. Lash Out is right up there at the top with Integrity, Mayday, Starkweather, etc. in terms of inventive, one-of-a-kind metallic hardcore bands that honestly never sounded like anything else out there. So it's no coincidence that they're also among the incredibly small number of acts whose music stirs me with such intensity that it makes me smile, brings tears to my eyes, and urges me to absolutely demolish everything in sight – all within the span of a song. I'm seriously restraining myself from typing in all caps and an enormous font right now, I'm that enthusiastic about this band.
This utterly amazing double-CD set includes everything Lash Out ever recorded sans 1996's "What Absence Yields" full-length (more on that at the end of the post). The first disc is dubbed "Vol. I: 1992 – 1995" and covers the band's early EP's and splits: "Worn Path" (1994), the split with Ambition (1996), "The Darkest Hour" (1993), the split with Contention (1994), "Under Every Depth" (1996), and the 1992 demo. "Worn Path" is probably my personal favorite from the band's discography, and kicking things off with this EP is the perfect choice, because there's simply no better opener than "Evening Shade". That chilling bass intro buildup annihilates me every god damn time, man. Love it. The word "progressive" is not the first that pops into my head when I think about Lash Out, but that's exactly what they were. They really hit their stride with the intricate, powerful songwriting and inimitable riffing textures first introduced on this EP (which carried on through their mid-90's output, including "What Absence Yields"). At this point they had everything from crushing, in your face chugging and surging, truly indescribable melodic characteristics to gorgeous acoustic passages and incredible basslines that never simply mirrored what the guitars were doing. It's pretty damn technical, but in a surprisingly subtle manner. The band's development over the years is immediately obvious once "The Darkest Hour" rolls around. You could certainly argue that there was more of a "catchy" element to its songwriting, which boasted more of a stripped down hardcore/punk influence, but at the same time the tracks were absolutely loaded with high-energy picking patterns (some of which have that zippy, pop-punk kind of vibe to 'em, though the tone of the compositions doesn't head in that direction at all) and badass roaming basslines. This type of style was present to a less obvious degree on the demo, which tended to follow a slightly slower, crunchier approach. Oh, and there's a great cover of Breakdown's legendary "Sick People" in the midst of this disc, too!
Disc 2, "Vol. II: 1996 – 1998" is centered around the band's second full-length, "The Judas Breed" (recorded in 1998, but unreleased until now), with tracks from the split with Burst (1998) and "The Unloved & Hated" EP (1997) added on to complete the set. Also worth mentioning is that some previously unreleased tracks from "The Unloved & Hated" sessions are thrown in as yet another bonus! This phase of the band's existence marked an unexpected shift towards raw simplicity, in part due to a gruffer vocalist, but also – with "The Judas Breed" especially – a dryer recording and some furious little lead flurries loosely reminiscent of the Cleveland type of sound. Make no mistake, though, there are still a lot of emphatic melodies (not to mention "Cubical", the band's darkest and most "experimental" track, complete with a little bit of full-on singing, piano, and dark ambient background textures), and the quality of the songwriting remained all about fucking force. It's incredibly hard to believe that it took more than a decade for this should-be classic to finally see an official release. There's not a weak tune in the bunch, just 12 songs/30 minutes of perfectly focused aggression. And on top of a grand total of 38 tracks/nearly two hours of astoundingly awesome music between the two CD's, the discs are housed in a slick, glossy digipack with a massive 24-page booklet that includes all of the lyrics and some killer photos from back in the day.
I cannot even begin to properly express how much I love Lash Out. From now until I finally decide to stop writing about music, I will never be this excited about another "new" release…
Lash Out "Evening Shade"
Lash Out "Caress of Solitude"
Lash Out "Below Zero"
A lot of people might not realize it, but this release is a FUCKING BIG DEAL. It really drives me insane when such incredible work goes underappreciated, so if you agree with me, please help spread the word, and let's try to move Lash Out into the "aptly appreciated" category, alright?
And if you disagree with me? Get the fuck off my website.
If you or anyone you know can help the label secure additional distribution for this gem, please do the world a favor and get in touch with them!
@ Get By Records
@ Reflections Records
@ Stuck in the Past
To complete your Lash Out collection, you can thankfully score the equally mandatory "What Absence Yields" from eMusic, iTunes, and probably a handful of other digital outlets, too. Everything that I've said above also holds true for that album. Crucial.