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July 7 - 14, 2000

[Music Reviews]

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***1/2 The Explosion


(Jade Tree)

Simply living up to the sonic promise inherent in a name like the Explosion is challenge enough in an era when techno-industrial electronica specialists armed with nothing more than store-bought samplers can approximate the sound of full-scale nuclear assault by just pushing a button. But Boston's bold, young Explosion up the ante by confronting head-on in the opening cut of their debut album the long legacy of punk-rock giants in whose shadows every fourth- or fifth-generation punk must toil. "We know they made mistakes/But we still imitate/Keep the spirit alive/When there's nothing left at stake," shouts raw-throated frontguy Matt Hock in his best Ian MacKaye voice against a fierce backdrop of dive-bombing guitars and a hammering thrash beat in "No Revolution."

In true punk fashion, the Explosion go on to power through 14 hyperkinetic tunes in under 30 minutes, with a concentrated, volatile mixture of Clash/Stiff Little Fingers political fury, hardcore punk velocity (approaching Minor Threat warp speed on "Outbound Line" and "Novocaine"), and '90s-style wall of serrated melodic guitars à la Seaweed. The result is not only the best Boston punk album in years -- one that upholds the Boston Not L.A.-era spirit of bands like the Proletariat, Stranglehold, and D.Y.S. -- but a disc that will be one of the most compelling punk albums of the year, period. Oh, and let's just say that with only conventional weaponry -- guitars, bass, and drums -- on hand, the Explosion have no trouble making good on the sonic promise of their name.

-- Matt Ashare
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