Boston’s SS Decontrol was, to some minds, the most important New England hardcore band of the early ’80s. With its now quaint cover shot of shiny-headed little punks charging the Massachusetts State House and such blistering, simple rockers as “How Much Art,” The Kids Will Have Their Say was a pivotal event in Boston hardcore history.
Likewise, Get It Away helped define the city’s straight-edge movement and remains a definitive hardcore classic. Seven quick songs on a 12-inch leave plenty of spare vinyl, but the impact couldn’t possibly be any greater. From the opening “Glue,” in which vocalist Springa addresses the need to hold together the straight-edge coalition, to the EP’s closer, a cover of the Buzzcocks’ “No Reply,” guitarists Alan Barile and Francois Levesque tear open a sonic hole with a devastating metal-on-metal grind. With some predictable but astounding amateur musicianship on “Forced Down Your Throat,” and “Nothing Done,” as well as a fleeting flirtation with dub in “Get It Away” and “Under the Influence,” SS Decontrol hit its enduring hardcore peak.
The following year, SS Decontrol (now billed merely as SSD) became one of the pioneers in the now-common shift from hardcore to thrash-metal. While the cover of How We Rock features gothic lettering and a glossy gold backing, it’s not that bad a record, a consciously brainier variation on hard-rock traditions. How We Rock was, at the time, slagged by hardcore purists, but it stands as a crucial step in the evolution of underground rock.
Break It Up, the quintet’s first full-length LP (and their last recording) was again trashed in some quarters for its metallic strivings, but curious rock students would do well to give it another spin. Considered from a post-Seattle vantage point, Break It Up couldn’t possibly be considered heavy metal. (For one thing, it’s not nearly heavy enough.) Springa’s Noddy Holder rasp and the band’s melodic guitar rock may have even less to do with punk than metal (except for Levesque’s flashy solos), but it should be noted that this convincing take on ’70s Brit-rock predates those bands commonly credited with that particular archaeological dig.