Sound: OFF! is a rare thing - a pure depiction of hardcore punk in a time when bands indiscriminately label themselves as such without much semblance to punk. And as a reflection of punk, OFF!'s self-titled second album works well. Similar to how hardcore progressed in the 80's, it's a little more obscure, possessing a little bit harder of an edge than their first disc, as well as not being quite as good. Hopefully OFF! won't experience the same rapid decline that punk did.
The guitars are just as loud and fast as they were on "First Four EPs" and the drums are just as ferocious. However, the riffs aren't quite as memorable as they were on "First Four EPs". There are still some killer guitar parts, like "Wiped Out" and "Harbor Freeway Blues", but guitarist Dimitri Coats doesn't shine as much here, which is sad compared to how much he roared in OFF! most recent single, "Compared To What".
Across the album, there is just a small difference in the production of the album that make it a bit darker than their first release. // 7
Lyrics: Keith Morris does a great job of revitalizing what punk lyrics generally consisted of back in the 70s and 80s, without feeling tired. Keith has had all he can stands and he can't stands no more. In some ways, it's refreshing to see a band's lyrics deal with something other than partying.
He really is a fantastic vocalist - balancing talent with his wordplay, his signature voice-box ripping growl of a voice and his ethos as an elder statesman of hardcore. On the flip side, after reading a few interviews about the lyrical themes on this album, it seems like he dwells quite a bit on the failed Black Flag reunion of the last decade. However, songs like "Cracked" are pure OFF! gold and have tons of venom in their lines. // 8
Overall Impression: Unfortunately, OFF!'s second album doesn't quite stack up to the immense quality of "First Four EPs" or the "Compared to What" single (ignoring the passable B-side "Rotten Apple"). For fans of punk, it's still a welcome release and has some good tunes on it. Even the worst OFF! song is worthy of a rage-fueled freak-out and will show up any of today's bands in terms of bada-sery.
Give the whole album a listen (it won't take you very long; the whole thing is less than 16 minutes) because there really are some good songs buried in the setlist, such as "King Kong Brigade" and "Feelings Are Meant To Be Hurt". // 8