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Bad Brains 

Build a Nation (Megaforce Records)

Wednesday, Jul 25 2007
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Of the many influential outfits reuniting for albums this year, D.C. reggae/hardcore act Bad Brains held only a shadow of a promise with its resurrected lineup. The doubt stemmed from a combination of lead singer H.R.'s reputation for erratic behavior and the fact that the band is almost two decades removed from its last relevant effort (1989's Quickness). With the help of producer Adam Yauch of the Beastie Boys, though, the group dug deep to unleash Build a Nation, a galvanizing addition to the Bad Brains' great legacy.

After a heavily processed vocal introduction from H.R., opener "Give Thanks and Praises" explodes with a skull-rattling Dr. Know guitar riff and the kind of hell-bent onslaught that made bassist Darryl Jenifer and drummer Earl Hudson one of the fiercest rhythm sections in punk history. A touch of Echoplex magic gives blistering tracks like "Jah People Make the World Go Round" and "Universal Peace" an added dimension. Yauch's analog approach elevates the reggae grooves of "Natty Dreadlocks 'pon the Mountain Top" and "Roll On" to dubwise transcendence that brilliantly balances the disc's hardcore fury. Even if H.R.'s delivery doesn't match his frenzied vitriol from classic-era Bad Brains, Build a Nation stands as one of the most shockingly potent comebacks in recent memory.

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Dave Pehling

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