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From the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.

Atomizer

Big Black

1986

Buy At Rough Trade
Atomizer
Album Summary

Atomizer is the debut full-length album by American punk rock group Big Black released in 1986.

Wikipedia

Rating

2.72

Votes

9139
Genres
Punk
Rock

Reviews

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Fri Dec 17 2021
5

Even if it's abrasive as shit, it's still very accessible and likable. Love Durango's and Steve's driving guitar, Roland plays the drums like a damn machine. The bass sounds beautiful. Also, Steve's delivery is spot on and the lyrics, even if they're simple in nature, when paired with the music, want me to punch a hole in the wall in sheer rebellion, anger, and hatred towards the world and the state we're headed. Oh, and it was recorded in 1985, some 35-40 years ago, and it still feels like it was recorded yesterday. Holy shit. A landmark in music. Fucking recommended the whole way. Also, Steve, if you're ever reading this, I love you and everything you do.

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Mon May 30 2022
4

Wholesome songs about paedophilia, racial passing, abuse of power in the police force, arson and self-immolation, shame, fist fucking and domestic violence, alcoholism, the tale of a Vietnam vet who becomes a contract killer (or is it really about drug addiction), the rat race, and cattle slaughter in abattoirs. The aural equivalent of suffering blunt force trauma to the head from a sledgehammer, these guys are so nasty, hard and bleak, that they make everyone else’s music sound as light and fluffy as a Disney movie soundtrack.

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Wed Sep 07 2022
1

No thank you. Just noise. Completely unnecessary inclusion.

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Fri Feb 11 2022
5

5.0 - Came to this with low expectations and they were immediately shattered. I've come to respect Steve Albini's exalted status as a producer. Now I'm in awe of him as a complete artist. The interplay of brutal drum machine, growly bass and clear vocals situated defiantly in the foreground - these elements make this album feel timeless. And the guitar sounds! Dry, gnarly, industrial. "Kerosene" is an obvious standout - so bleak! How do they conjure a screeching pterodactyl on "Passing Complexion"?? This album sounds nothing like what I know about 1985.

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Sun Apr 03 2022
5

And this will stay with you until you die

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Thu Sep 15 2022
5

Lol, this is incredible! The production is so noisy and raw. Steve Albini's band, so that makes sense. Sometimes gives me some Ministry vibes with the combination of drum machine and distorted vocals.

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Thu Sep 22 2022
5

Steve Albini: master of noise Post-punk meets noise rock meets industrial meets awesome.

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Mon Oct 31 2022
4

Was excited to listen to this one since I’m familiar with Albini as an Engineer/Producer. He has worked with a lot of my favourite bands, Ty Segall, METZ, Cloud Nothings so I wasn’t surprised to be impressed with this album. It’s crunchy, gritty and loud. Sounded like a band that would have been pretty cool to see live, big fan of this one. Definitely going to explore their other work. 4 stars!

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Thu Nov 03 2022
4

Unexpected funk - a treat for the ears

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Fri Nov 04 2022
4

Hitting right in the sweet spot between punk and industrial.

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Thu Dec 16 2021
3

I'm too old to waste time listening to this fucking guy yell at me for an hour. Beats are interesting I guess.

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Fri Aug 26 2022
1

Probably one of the worst albums here

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Thu Dec 16 2021
5

Still love this album. Bleak, angry, raging, powerful stuff. I don't think they ever bettered this, although Songs About F*cking comes very close.

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Thu May 12 2022
5

Loud noisy fun. Always worth a revisit.

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Fri Jul 15 2022
5

A big noise from big boys. I have this on vinyl and still play it often. I believe Nirvana ripped BB off with a lame, sanitized version. This is the real deal.

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Fri Aug 19 2022
5

Littéralement mind blown, le mélange de son est ahurissant, c'est tellement en avance sur son temps. L'une des découvertes les plus surprenantes des 1001.

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Thu Sep 08 2022
5

Loved it. Never heard anything quite like it

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Thu Sep 22 2022
5

Great I really enjoyed the punk sound!

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Thu Oct 06 2022
5

Just a solid, noisy, angry punk record. Shades of everything from Judas Priest to Ministry. Think it loses a little steam near the end, but I was surprised how much I enjoyed the whole thing. Favorite tracks: "Bad Houses", "Stinking Drunk", "Fists of Love"

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Sun Oct 30 2022
5

I am not a huge fan of electro based music. But I can appreciate good sounds, elegant beats and surprising musical twists and turns. This album works as background as well as for intense listening. A discovery.

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Fri Nov 25 2022
5

Classic 80s album with big reputation that I never got around to but I knew it would be excellent of course.

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Thu Dec 15 2022
5

Finally a banger. Only one I listened to 2x so far

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Sun Jan 15 2023
5

Such an interesting mix of slightly tinny and industrial sounds with dissonant punk vibes. I wasn’t sure how to rate this but I thought long and hard about it and read more about Albini and just gained more and more appreciation for everything about this. So innovative and still holds up after everything that has come since.

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Wed Feb 01 2023
5

Couldn't listen . Not on spotify

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Fri Feb 03 2023
5

AHHH! I love Big Black! Songs About Fucking is a classic and so is the rest of their discography. 5/5.

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Thu Feb 09 2023
5

I wonder how I would've responded to this audible assault back in 1986. This is honestly the first I've even heard of this album and I now know where some of my favourite bands found their inspiration. This is brutal, energetic, noisy and bleak industrial and still sound like it could've been released in this decade, even though it's already 37 years old. What a revelation.

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Wed Mar 01 2023
5

Great takes on the genre. Equal parts catchy and caustic, with great lyrics and a sense of purpose.

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Wed Mar 15 2023
5

Unique, danceable, aggressive, and principled punk. I like it. Thanks Steve Albini!

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Fri Mar 17 2023
5

Been a fan of Big Black for years. Never really considered them proto-industrial, but I'm buying it. Personally, Songs about F___ing is my go-to Big Black album.

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Wed Apr 12 2023
5

There's something about the tinny, electronic dissonance of Big Black that sets it apart from nearly anything else. Like Minor Threat shrunk down and forced to perform inside a crappy old CRT telly. The subject matter is bleakly earnest too. I love it, it's horrible and I love it.

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Fri Apr 21 2023
5

Master piece. So raw and yet melodic… it is a shame it’s not available on Spotify - but makes complete sense, knowing Albini.

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Thu May 04 2023
5

One of the best albums of the 80s in my opinion and my favourite work from Big Black or any of Steve Albini’s bands. I’m a big fan of this style of excessively loud and pissed off rock music, and the songs here are so well written and infused with raw energy, screeching feedback, rumbling bass and a drum machine that repeatedly beats you in the face. The lyrics delve into the darkest aspects of humanity and the depths of depravity (some choices regretted by Albini, such as the false rumour that inspired Jordan, Minnesota). Not a record you’d play for your parents unless they were really cool, but a complete masterwork and a landmark recording. 5 stars

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Thu Aug 31 2023
5

What a find. Loved every minute of this. 5/5

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Fri Sep 08 2023
5

TIL Steve Albini had a band, and it was absolutely incredible. So filthy and lo-fi and layered and nasty but just perfect really, I love the harshness of the guitars and the cleanness of the drum machines. YouTube music link: https://music.youtube.com/channel/UCqGF7gRwC9ZFxWIv0uWUl_g But this should really be listened to on a dog-eared vinyl or a smashed cassette tape.

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Thu Sep 14 2023
5

I forgot how good this album is. I havent listened to it for years, mainly as its not on Spotify and the only Big Black record I have physically is Songs About Fucking. I always thought that was the better one, but I think this tops it. Steve Albini has always been brutal as fuck with his lyrics but he manages to find a way to make every instrument he touches sound like its bat shit angry. I love it. I love the rough sound, the production approach, the drum machine (he even managed to make that sound fucking livid). This is the post-punk / noise rock I love. Noisey, cluttered, angry, unique. Shouldnt work but it really does. Class.

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Thu Sep 14 2023
5

Maybe in the top 5 guitar sound on an album of all time, it sounds like scraping against giant strings of metal. Kerosene alone is one of the most intense and explosive rock songs you'll ever hear ("SET ME ON FIRE"). I was pretty sure I'd give it a 5, but after relistening i'm doubly sure, you'll struggle to find more aggressive rock music than this. Not surprised that once again, an album that's actually interesting and different than plain 60s rock n roll is panned with a low score on here.

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Fri Sep 29 2023
5

BADASS. Wish someone had introduced me to this as a teenager - it'd've gone hand in hand with my Ministry obsession. Fave track - "Kerosene". GodDAMN that song embodies the teenage frustration of living in a crappy little nonentity town. 🔥

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Thu Nov 16 2023
5

Huhh olipas huikea ylläri! Iski lujaa ja liittyy Fugazin kaveriksi suosikki punk-bändien harvalukuiseen joukkoon. Vaikea yhdistää vuoteen 1986, olisi voinut olla 1996.

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Tue Dec 05 2023
5

Mid-80s industrial punk, reminiscent of the Holy Bible, which may be partly why it appeals. Steve Albini (vocals and guitar in Big Black) later produced Journal for Plague Lovers, and it's easy to see how he and MSP would be a good fit. This is too bleak and nasty to return to frequently, but you can't help but respect the raw power and uncompromising achievement of the artistic intent. Rating: 4.5/5 Playlist track: Kerosene Date listened: 04/12/23

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Fri Dec 29 2023
5

Put off listening to this for ages because it wasn't on Spotify and I'd never heard of it. I'm a fool. Proto-industrial noise with Steve Albini. Absolutely love it.

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Wed Feb 14 2024
5

I immediately respond to the harder, louder stuff on here. I don't have much else to say except thanks for the good time.

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Fri Feb 23 2024
5

Best album and band this thing had given that I've never heard of, hands down.

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Fri Feb 23 2024
5

Somehow despite having heard a million records Steve Albini produced, I never listened to Big Black. This is fucking GREAT

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Wed Feb 09 2022
4

Did not expect to like this so much, but it fucks pretty hard. 4.25

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Fri Feb 11 2022
4

Fun, verryyyyyy similar to Minor Threat. Good, yes.

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Fri Apr 15 2022
4

You have to listen to this loud to match the vocals with the instruments or else you’ll hear more instruments than the vocals. Which is either brilliant for a punk band or just because I listened on YouTube

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Wed May 04 2022
4

Probably not one I'd listen to again but it really grew on me as I listened. Some great, heavy riffs. Standout track: Bazooka Joe

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Thu May 12 2022
4

Had not listened to this one before. But it's very good. Sort of a punk rock/industrial thing. Reznor of NiN was probably a fan of this album. I liked it.

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Thu May 12 2022
4

This is a great album. I was very into hardcore punk when this came out and it was just… different sounding but with all the intensity and emotion.

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Thu May 12 2022
4

Is it punk, metal, industrial? All of the above.. Great album that help pave the way for industrial metal bands suck as Ministry, NIN, KMFDM. Great album. Kerosene is so damn good.

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Fri May 13 2022
4

I'm not sure I'll remember much of this tomorrow but it's really good fun while you listen to it. I dare anyone to listen to Strange Things and not nod their head manically along to the beat.

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Fri May 27 2022
4

Pretty cool, shame it's not on Spotify though 4

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Fri May 27 2022
4

That was angry fun. I heard bits of The Pixies as well as some angsty metal. There was a pop sensibility hiding in well constructed, musical songs.

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Thu Jun 09 2022
4

very fun noisy stuff. might be my favourite punk album now

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Wed Jun 15 2022
4

Clxssic. The pounding drum machine, Albini’s inelegant delivery, and the sound they produce from their metallic guitars is either stunningly ghastly or like you’re being run over with a bulldozer. That being said, there are better noise-rock albums out there… well deserving of being on this list, nonetheless

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Fri Jul 01 2022
4

Um, yes please. May I have another? I'm really embarrassingly unfamiliar with most of Albini's own music (though I have listened to Shellac some), but I loved this! Absolutely scratches the itch of early Ministry and all that Wax Trax industrial stuff, but still has a quality to it that's entirely separate from that scene. Weirder guitar sounds and noisier perhaps? Whatever you want to call it, I would have loved this in 1993 and kind of can't fathom that it came out in '85. Btw, did you see the news that Steve Albini won like $150k in a poker tournament recently? Can you imagine playing cards with that dude? Ha. Anyway, this one was way up my alley and has given me a sliver of hope in this list yet. Will we see a Ministry record? Skinny Puppy? Nipple rings crossed, dudes.

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Wed Jul 27 2022
4

You can hear so much of Albini's influence – whether it be the song structure, sound, or production – on grunge/alternative/punk/HC. Collectively, the songs work well together. Definitely will revisit in the future.

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Wed Aug 31 2022
4

Not something I'd seek out but it was fantastic

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Fri Sep 09 2022
4

Like a proto nine inch nails mixed with 80s punk sensibilities. So much energy and angst, but still listenable.

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Thu Sep 15 2022
4

Big Black fuckin’ rock. Don’t have much else to say. B+

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Thu Sep 15 2022
4

Noisy, raw and intense. No idea who these guys are but I enjoyed this quite a bit. The synth work is pretty crazy. Highlights: Passing Complexion, Kerosene, Stinking Drunk

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Thu Sep 15 2022
4

Liked this album, but didn't love it. Gotta appreciate what it did though. 3.75/5

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Thu Sep 15 2022
4

Great energy. This album surprised me. I ended up really, really liking the song 'Kerosene' and that's made me look favourably on the rest of the album. It has a distinct industrial, heavy feel to it that reminds me a lot of Nine Inch Nails (during their industrial phase of course). I don't usually like industrial music, but this was great. Definitely worth a relisten. Atomizer, allow me to give you a generous 4 stars.

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Fri Sep 16 2022
4

Too bad I didn't know about this album as a teenager!

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Thu Sep 22 2022
4

Pretty cool, unique vibe. High energy. Grows on you as it goes.

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Fri Sep 30 2022
4

Uh.... good thing I'm going to work my gosh what the hell is going on here. Very intriguing album where there are weird electronics mix with noise rock and post punk. I like the frist half of this album more The second part. I can't believe they got away with some of these lyrics but then again this is Steve Albani we are talking about. He gives no shits.Oh great who generated albums please give me something interesting that I DID NOT HEAR BEFORE FOR THE LOVE OF GOD

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Fri Oct 28 2022
4

Oh damn this is heavy, I LOVE it. It's noisy, abrasive, brilliantly produced.

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Fri Nov 11 2022
4

Politically-charged proto-noise? Sign me up. This fucks.

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Fri Nov 18 2022
4

A little too long for what it is, but what it is is fucking rad.

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Fri Nov 25 2022
4

Really good album. I liked the aggressive guitar sounds, fast-paced drumming and overall production. Maybe a little bit too one-dimensional to give it full marks, though.

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Mon Dec 05 2022
4

Was very excited going into this album. The production is definitely something. I wouldn't say it's unique but very lively. I love instrumentals especially in Passing Complexion, but the vocals could do better in terms of volume. Fave track(s): Passing Complexion, Kerosene, Stinking Drunk

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Thu Dec 15 2022
4

Not what I expected having never heard them. There’s not a description of this album that would’ve made me want to listen, but I ended up enjoying it. Made me want to listen to Danzig and I think that’s a good thing

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Thu Jan 05 2023
4

Wow, very good album that I would have never listened to. It's not going to be for everyone but the sound is aggressive without being too harsh. It's a vibe.

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Mon Jan 16 2023
4

Had never heard of this band or album. Looked them up later and realized this is Steve Albini’s band so makes sense it’s on this list. Pretty good noise punk

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Wed Jan 25 2023
4

Abrasive and intense punk infused by heavy abrasive industrial yet still melodic and even a bit catchy. Mamy of them sound like they were recorded by putting a mic in a factory. Reminds me of Joy Division in its dark undertones and distorted atmosphere, most notably in songs like "Bad Houses". Yet their attitude is angry and politically charged similar to contemporary hardcore bands (but not as much screaming or aggressively fast playing). The 1st half is more like a traditional punk album in structure and vocals, but that drastically changes into something much more incoherent in the 2nd half, where the vocals feel more like another instrument. You even have some danceable tracks like "Strange Things." Enjoyed every song, with "Kerosene" being the best, showcasing their potential if they went in that route.

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Wed Jan 25 2023
4

Raw and electric. Pretty cool and interesting late punk.

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Fri Feb 03 2023
4

Très étonnant disque de 1985 et qui ouvre la voie au grunge, aux Pixies... Content d'avoir découvert le travail de Steve Albini. Très avangardiste et influent. On passe un drôle de moment, sombre, torturé, violent, tourmenté.

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Sun Feb 12 2023
4

this shit good. pogotovo "Kerosene"

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Sun Feb 12 2023
4

I always found it interesting that a producer so famous for his drum sound would use a drum machine in his own band. Great guitar squeals, shrill human screeches and spaced out uses of silence. These guys don’t try to pass themselves off as anything more than hateful little creeps, and it pairs pretty well with the tone of the music. If Albini had a talent for writing vocal melodies this band would bump up from being pretty great to incredible.

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Sun Feb 19 2023
4

Elite level classic. Love this project for discovering new gems, but sometimes you see a familiar sight and it’s just wonderful. This album is, if not quite perfect, certainly as close as can be. Probably his best. ALL IMHO AND SUBJECTIVE OF COURSE

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Fri Feb 24 2023
4

Never judge a book by its cover, I really thought this was going to be boring and kind of just bland due to the cover. The cover didn’t appeal to me at first. But after going into the first 2 tracks, I realized how wrong I was. While this album wasn’t perfect, it made me want more. It really does a whole unique take on the punk sound and I really enjoy it. 8/10. I’ll definitely be getting this on vinyl

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Thu Mar 09 2023
4

Nice! I've never listened to Albini's early stuff. This is is pretty great. You can hear a lot of the Shellac that was yet to come. Also hear influences like Ministry (... or did this influence Ministry??). Anyway, good fun.

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Mon Mar 13 2023
4

A band I was only vaguely aware of, given how much more successful Steve Albini was as a producer. Glad to have listened to it now though, even if my favourite song was the one I knew best before - "Bazooka Joe". A very good album, but not quite 5 🌟 for me.

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Mon Mar 13 2023
4

Noisy punk!! Yes!!!!!! I tried to get my kids to mosh with me to Karosene but they're lame.

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Wed Apr 05 2023
4

This is a bleak record. The lyrics are arresting, and the use of over driven guitars and vocals give an extra punch that drives the despair home. The drum machines and noise elements further add to the atmosphere. The production is memorable and the musicianship is great though it may sound loose and sloppy. Everything is right where it needs to be.

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Wed Apr 12 2023
4

Difficult to listen to as the band removed everything from Spotify - I can imagine why after reading biographies. That's a shame as I'm partially using this lsist as a way to break the Spotify algorithm (although I imagine it'll now just be made up of classic rock if I'm not careful). Found a version on YouTube. It's pretty decent and I'd listen to it again.

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Fri Apr 14 2023
4

Harsh enough to instantly carve a channel for itself, the waves of Atomizer contain none of the usual drum machine pitfalls. Kerosene is a five-star song.

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Wed Apr 19 2023
4

Now here is an example of one to hear before you die. Steve Albini captured the pure anguish and despair that exists within the human experience through a sound that can only really accurately be described as razor blades grating against sheet metal. From the first track about the tragedy of Jordan, Minnesota (told from the offenders perspective), to the menacing opening of Fists of Love, and notable melody? from Kerosene, there is a constant development of more horrific soundscapes that builds throughout. This is not an easy listen, but it is important.

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Fri Apr 21 2023
4

Finally something original and unusual. Very specific sound, like a compilation of electronic music from 80s, a bit of shoegazing, quite a lot of punk rock. At moments it sounds like an early attempt at industrial music, for some reason it reminded me early White Zombie, even though they provably have nothing to do with each other. "Jordan, Minnesota" and "Kerosene" are certified bangers, the question is, how come I've never heard of this band before? It goes on my "to listen" list straight away. Only issue - maybe it's too experimental at times, only for purists of new and chaotic music.

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