Although probably better known for his stints in Washington DC’s Dag Nasty and California’s All, Dave Smalley began his career in Boston, with a hardcore band ironically named for the city’s Department of Youth Services. On Wolfpack, as DYS expounds the judgmentally self-righteous straight-edge ethos (no drugs, no drink) that became popular in both Boston and DC, Smalley comes off as an admirable idealist and a terrible singer. Though the debut could simply be tagged and shelved as a chunk of tolerable hardcore, it does contain some bright spots, most notably “Escape,” a metalized dirge with heavily delayed vocals. The album also displays a sense of humor — not a common straight-edge commodity — in an ad-libbed cover of “Ironman” and a pair of parodies (“Dirty Dog” and “Rub a Dub”).
Satire seemed to suit the band, and DYS is pure metal mockery. (Or is it?) Either a good joke badly executed or a bad idea through and through, the record has a real scary cover and appropriately styled vocals. Funny or not, it just isn’t any good.