Sound — 8
Fear were together nearly five years before recording their first album, and the results of playing live and honing their literal attack show on this, their debut. Although the West Coast hardcore scene (if it was ever really hardcore) was already in full force, The Record was a hurricane of offensive derision designed to alienate everyone involved in the then-burgeoning SoCal PC scene- punks included. Philo Cramer was one of the more accomplished guitarists on the punk frontline; and Fear, for all of their confrontational stance, escaped a lot of the crticism aimed at some of the scenes less polished upstarts. Not that Fear were virtuosos- Cramer sounds as if he's trying to break the tremolo bar off of his axe, even during his rhythms. But the manic pace of the changes in tempo, feel, and mood make for an exhilirating listen. For most people outside of California, Fears first exposure was in Penelope Spheeris' documentary The Decline of Western Civilization, where their rambling, audience-baiting performance stole the show, portraying them as the only serious threat to Black Flags promise to single-handedly corrupt your children. Songs begin with blazing blues runs and Lee Vings bellowing shouts, and end in an orchestrated disaster, which is all the more satisfying in it's precision execution.
Lyrics — 10
The fact that Fear originally wrote the Josie Cotton classic "Johhny, are you Queer" should give an indication of the lengths that the band were willing to go to offend and incite a reaction. This is a tight, professional band- no matter the subject at hand. This isn't nasally, whiny punk rock. This is beer drinking, gun-toting, commie-hatin' American punk- with all of it's roots showing. Ving is a decent vocalist, punk standards notwithstanding, and he shows his talents more on later releases, but he does a lot here to expand the idea of what the acceptable (ugh) idea of a punk vocalist is. If you're open minded, he may even make you think.
Overall Impression — 9
In their heyday, many people in the LA punk scene threw a fit about Fear, and tried to get them banned from the clubs. Years later, many of them (Keith Morris, John Doe, Darby Crash) Admitted that Fear were the funniest bunch of guys that they were afraid of- but only on the stage. With their pseudo-political "Let's Have a War", hate-mongering "I don't Care about you", and the hyphen-necessatative "New York's Alright if you like Saxophones", they may have inadvertently created the violence on the West Coast punk scene, but Fear, 30 years later, still rocks ass all over spilled milk.