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Code of Honor 

Complete Studio Recordings 1982-1984

Wednesday, Jun 28 2006
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Though it never achieved the same level of international notoriety as contemporaries like the Dead Kennedys or Subterranean Records labelmate Flipper, politically charged local hardcore outfit Code of Honor produced some of the most bracing, radical punk music to emerge from San Francisco during the early '80s heyday of the Fab Mab and the Farm. Formed by Subterranean co-founder and in-house producer Michael D. Fox after the sudden dissolution of his band Sick Pleasure, CoH railed furiously against the status quo of Reagan's America and complacency among young punks with the songs compiled on the recently released Complete Studio Recordings 1982-1984. The invective spewed by singer Johnithin Christ on call-to-arms anthems "What's It Gonna Be?" and "People's Revolution" may be dated by references to El Salvador and then S.F. Mayor Dianne Feinstein, but his anti-government venom perfectly matches Fox' corrosive guitar and the pummeling, intricate rhythms of bassist Dave Chavez and drummer Sal Paradise. Flashes of experimentalism in earlier songs like the funky, Minutemen-style breakdown on "Death to You" flowered into full-blown hardcore weirdness on the band's sole full-length album Beware the Savage Jaw, an effort that confused punks of its time while foreshadowing the sound of things to come with abruptly shifting tempos and more sophisticated sonic palette. Here's hoping this long overdue reissue brings Code of Honor some of the credit it deserves for expanding the horizons of underground music.

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Dave Pehling

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