“The beauty of punk rock is that its sound follows a historical progression,” says ReIgnition Recordings chief, Ross Siegel, when discussing his favorite musical genre. “Whether its NOFX or Green Day, punk bands consistently tip their hats to what came before in heavy rock and roll.” The recent release of a host of tribute compilations in which contemporary popular punk bands pay homage to the giants of yesteryear gives this statement verisimilitude. It could be My Chemical Romance covering The Misfits or Fall Out Boy offering sonic thanks to Gorilla Biscuits—it is no secret that punk rock is a cumulative medium in which the past informs the present. In this artform, pioneering creative geniuses are held in high regard and still worshipped by 15 year-old kids who serendipitously discover a Minor Threat LP or a Bad Brains 7” in their older brother’s bedroom. Ever since Henry Rollins, Black Flag’s best known frontman, first blurted out the opening lines of “Rise Above” on the pivotal Damaged LP, countless teenagers have undoubtedly felt the exact same way over the past 24 years since its release.
ReIgnitions’ Siegel’s story is similar: “When I was 15 my dad took me to cool record shop in San Francisco’s SOMA district, that of course closed down years ago, this is where I got Black Flag’s First Four Years compilation on CD. The record, everything the Los Angeles hardcore band had recorded in the first four years of their existence, had a rotating cast of singers and guitarists, and utterly changed the way I thought about music forever.” With each subsequent year, the band’s legend grows: how Rollins joined the band after his friend Ian Mackaye (Fugazi, Minor Threat) urged him to leave Washington DC for bigger things; guitarist and band leader Greg Ginn’s notorious intensity and penchant for The Grateful Dead and Black Flag; latter-years bassist Kira Roessler’s marriage to Minutemen bassist Mike Watt; or the band’s famed DIY label, SST, which released records by everyone from Bad Brains to Sonic Youth to Soundgarden.
Originally released in the summer of 2003 by the late, great Louisville label Initial Records, Black On Black: A Tribute To Black Flag was a nine song disc that showcased a group of bands that felt a kinship in a sea of mediocrity in aggressive music. Perhaps their love of bands like Black Flag, a bit off the beaten path from bands mainstream acts like Good Charlotte and Simple Plan (or other bands the mainstream thinks of as “punk”), brought them together to make the compilation. However, Initial Records was plagued by debt and the company folded without giving Black On Black the kind of push many felt it deserved.
Enter ReIgnition Recordings. After realizing success with their Bring You To Your Knees: A Tribute To Guns ‘N Roses, and the upcoming release of The Killer In You: A Tribute To Smashing Pumpkins, Siegel and ReIgntion felt it was a true tragedy that the world would not have a chance to hear Converge’s crushing rendition of “Annihilate This Week” or The Dillinger Escape Plan’s cathartic “Damaged.” Thus, Andy Rich of Initial agreed to let ReIngition re-release the tribute with six bonus tracks (Bleeding Through, Black Dahlia Murder, Most Precious Blood, and more), a re-mastered sound, and brand new packaging. Black On Black: A Tribute To Black Flag was re-born.
With some of the most exciting heavy bands in the country covering Black Flag songs, this record tears like a razor. Featuring a diverse cast, like Boston noise-core juggernauts Converge (Epitaph), straightedge hardcore killers Remembering Never (Ferret Music), rock and roll warriors Planes Mistaken For Stars (Abacus), Orange County thrashers Bleeding Through (Trustkill), or the Jersey metal marauders Burnt By The Sun (Relapse) whose recording of “Drinking And Driving” will tear the paint off your bedroom walls.
Rounding out the cast are Most Precious Blood (Trustkill), Black Dahlia Murder (Metal Blade), Drowningman (Thorp/ReIgnition), Zao (Ferret Music), Give Up The Ghost (Equal Vision), Coalesce (Relapse), Anodyne (Level-Plane), The Hope Conspiracy (Equal Vision), and Playing Enemy (Escape Artist).
On the heels of ReIgnition Recordings’ highly successful Bring You To You Knees: A Tribute To Guns N’ Roses, which set the benchmark for tribute compilations with covers by Every Time I Die, Bleeding Through, Death By Stereo, God Forbid, Most Precious Blood, and others; and The Killer In You: A Tribute To Smashing Pumpkins¸ a more pop-oriented tribute featuring Poison The Well, Armor For Sleep, Roses Are Red, and Hopesfall, among others, Black On Black: A Tribute To Black Flag is an homage to punk rock’s forefathers. Black Flag have influenced a generation of heavy rock artists—uber-metallers like Shadows Fall, Lamb Of God, and As I Lay Dying all claim the LA unit as an inspiration—this tribute to them completes their status as true legends.