BAD BRAINS: QUICKNESS (1989)
1) Soul Craft; 2) Voyage Into Infinity; 3) The Messengers; 4) With The Quickness; 5) Gene Machine/Don't Bother Me; 6) Don't Blow Bubbles; 7) Sheba; 8) Yout' Juice; 9) No Conditions; 10) Silent Tears; 11) The Prophet's Eye; 12) Endtro.
What we have here is a rather blatantly obvious sequel to I Against I. Recorded in a rather fussy manner: H.R. quit the band in 1986, then returned already after their next recording had been completed — with the band so happy about it that they agreed to erase the vocals by Taj Singleton (who filled in for H.R. on their 1988 tour) and redo it all over again. By this time, though, H.R. seems to have completely gone off his rocker, so much so that the lyrics on Quickness keep veering somewhere in between Rastafarianism, Pastafarianism, Satanism, and plain old schizophasia — and the vocals mostly comply.
All of which actually gives the record a certain unique flavor — I mean, it may be politically incorrect (even for the time) to blame the spread of AIDS on gay people, imploring them to "ask Jah and he'll make the change" (ʽDon't Blow Bubblesʼ), but at least it is less boring than having to sit through just another bit of generic Rasta preaching. And, in general, having H.R. play the «holy fool», with syntactically disconnected splinters of phrases covered in smoke, spit, Spirit, and, most importantly, tons and tons of spite, is quite an experience.
Unfortunately, all of it is completely wasted on a set of songs that make even less sense than the ones on I Against I. Just as before, these are «metal punk» melodies, too slow and too complex in structure to satisfy the demands for good punk, yet too deformed and too loose to constitute good metal. At least ʽSacred Loveʼ and ʽShe's Calling Youʼ, much as I dislike their «vibe», had some basic melodic impact. On Quickness, the riffs cease to make any sense whatsoever: loud, somewhat math-rockish (but way too noisy and poorly mixed to impress with any sort of precision or head-spinning chord changes), and thoroughly unmemorable.
Even worse, it seems as if every second song or so has the exact same riff patern on repeat — at the very least, ʽVoyage Into Infinityʼ and ʽGene Machineʼ are definitely the same song, happily chug-chug-chug-chugging away like nobody would mind. Sometimes it gets faster, sometimes it gets slower, but in the end, it's all the same — this is an album written on complete autopilot, and a thorough waste of Dr. Know's talents (and at this time, it is beginning to be permissible to actually start doubting that there was any talent in the first place — at the very least, not in the songwriting department, that is for sure).
The «slower metal / faster metal» formula is betrayed only once, when at the very end the band unexpectedly returns to explore its reggae roots with ʽThe Prophet's Eyeʼ — reflecting H.R.'s state-of-the-art dementia this time, the song sounds more like a parody on what they used to do than anything genuinely serious. As disappointing as the rest of the record.
Technical note: although Earl Hudson is officially credited for percussion work, the real drumming here belonged to session player Mackie Jayson. Not that this changes anything: the best drummer in the world could not save this utterly uninspired puddle of muddle. Of course, if you experience uncontrollable spasms of joy at any random thrash riff addressing you from your speakers — Quickness is highly recommendable. But honestly, I'd rather just get me some Slayer instead: I am honestly not interested in trying to metabolize this fodder into efficient vitamins for the body and the soul, even with the help of H.R.'s eccentric behavior. Thumbs down.
Check "Quickness" (MP3) on Amazon