Sunday, March 1, 2009

Records We Love: Inside Out (California) EP PART II

Zack in the face of the Trenton crowd, Photo: Ken Salerno

Gordo picks up where he left off yesterday with his dissection of the Inside Out EP. As always, a HUGE thank you goes out to Ken Salerno who pulled through in a pinch with more incredible Inside Out shots to go along with this entry. Big thanks also need to go out to Dave Sine for his Inside Out photo and all the great photos that he has been flowing our way. Keep your eyes open for a big Dave Sine entry that should be finding it's way to DCXX any day now. Ok, this is the point where I hand it back over to Gordo... -Tim DCXX

The closer track is the insanely serious "No Spiritual Surrender." The song opens up and makes all promises of being perhaps the greatest song ever written. Dark guitar echoes and squeals, a bass that sounds like it has half functioning pick-ups, Zack's breathing and off-the-charts intro scream, and a tribal floor drum beat combine to sound like something that would start playing the second you get into a small cage with a tiger at midnight with only a flickering oil lamp allowing you to see anything. From there the song goes into the verse, Zack again continuing with a lyrical theme he would end up somehow making a career (and a buttload of cash) out of: being silenced and having his identity suppressed by what appears to sound like friends, parents, teachers, bosses, the government, the military, the white man, a young Tony Blair, mavericks, clowns, cowboys, astronauts, cricket players, deep sea fishermen...jeez, pretty much everyone really.

But yeah, things seem to be progressing in the song to the point where it will absolutely just explode to the moon. Unfortunately, it seems to take a step backwards with the chorus, which is just Zack screaming, "No Spiritual Surrender," in a sort of mail-it-in fashion. This isn't bad by any means, and maybe at this point in the listen you just expect more, but it just seems to come up a little short with where the energy seemed to be going. Maybe they had already blown their load by this point (or maybe I had), I don't know...but I think it could have been done better. They repeat this again, and just like that, it's basically over. Bratton's repeated drum rolls signal closure and Zack's final lament of "NO" fades out...probably the single word which can summarize this record's and his life's lyrical topics.

Vic and Zack at City Gardens, Photo: Ken Salerno

I won't go too much into the two other songs from this session, "Sacrifice" and "Redemption," mostly because I have always viewed them as "bonus" tracks more than actual EP songs, even though both are of the same caliber as the others and every bit as much real songs. "Sacrifice" is a start to finish rager where Bratton and Vic seem to go back and forth, trading roll for lick, each's power constantly outdoing the other in a song that is the equivalent of a steam roller doing 30 mph on a small suburban street. The song has a great stop/start feel with a lot of quick pauses and changes, but again never really goes through the roof or changes a ton in dynamic. But it is what it is, and it is great.

"Redemption" is much more my favorite of the two, kicking off with Vic's fast crunching which is again more proof of just how awesome he sounds on this. This song ends up going exactly where you hope it will: calming down in the middle and quieting out for a couple seconds, only before building back up with a great bass line and guitar picking, and exploding back out and into the final vocal crescendo of "sometimes I just don't know, I guess we lost our way to go (x4)...REDEMPTION!" Just a great is the type of part you sing in your room when you are pretending you are Zack, the TV remote is the mic, and your startled dog is the crowd at Spanky's. Umm, well, I do anyways.

Zack hits the crowd with Inside Out at City Gardens, Photo: Ken Salerno

I can see why some people find the vibe of Inside Out so overbearing, since Zack and Vic seemed to take everything so seriously. It's also a fact, no...wait...theory, that Zack has never smiled in his life. In HC, you kinda get a pass with this type of thing if you have neck tattoos or are in the Pagans. But, in HC, when the brutally-critical HC superfan type knows or at least thinks you grew up comfortably in Irvine/Long Island, were a SE kid in Hard Stance/Beyond, and are hilariously non-intimidating physically, it's a little tougher to sell the seriousness that they tried to sell in Inside Out.

When I think about it, Zack or Vic come off as the the type of friends you could have had stay at your house for dinner when you were 16, and when you are sitting at the table and your Dad asks your Mom if she can grab the butter for him, one of them tells your Mom, "Mrs. Jordan, you don't have to do that. You don't have to bow down to this society's gender expecations of you. You can break out of this machine and not buy into their dogmatic confines, YOU CAN FIGHT THIS SYSTEM!!!" Umm, it's a stick of butter.

I'm not saying Zack (or Vic) haven't made music that hits on a lot of important topics, because they have, and they have spent their lives spreading their personal messages. Unfortunately, a lot of the bad stereotypes about the forward thinking, ultra PC bend of the early 90's HC scene somehow can get traced to this whole vibe. Personally, it doesn't phase me, because I still think Inside Out is a true rager of a unit, but I understand others not being able to hang based on the above.

The No Spiritual Surrender sing along at City Gardens, Photo: Ken Salerno

Oh, the EP layout. I've always thought it's cool and that it works. Vic has said it wasn't the band's design idea and they didn't dig it. I've always thought the whole thing matched the music and vibe perfectly - a semi-Western mantra feel to it (right down to the blue - get it?), vague spiritual-vibe artwork, and just a straight on live shot of Zack raging on the mic for the cover (some great info on it here: It's never been a mind-blowing EP package to me, but I've always thought it was super cool and fit them perfectly.

Ultimately, the Inside Out story is nice and neat and confined to about a two year period, void of weird reunions (aside from the '93 thing), bad second records, or any weird off-shoots. Unless you get hung up on tracking down all the various live sets and radio sets (which is definitely worth doing for the dozen or so great unreleased tunes - find the KXLU set), your level of fandom can simply boil down to these six songs. It definitely is a significant part of the Revelation catalog, and it is a record that bridges the 80s with the 90s, both for HC in general and for each individual all-star musician (all band members going on to do many significant things later). It's also one of the best social connectors we as HC folks have to mainstream music, as we have all at one time or another told the dude at school or work who likes RATM about Zack's "first band."

For me, it epitomizes heavy, raging introspective hardcore that borrows from metal and DC in some the best possible ways, and showcases a lot of talent that really combines to form a hell of a unit. It is still the HC record that most makes me want to get a white BC Rich, stop shaving, wear cut off jean shorts and slip-on Vans, emulate Vic (which strangely means somehow ending up physically resembling John Walker Lindh), and destroy my living hopes of maybe one day being able to take the power back. -Gordo DCXX

A classic shot of Inside Out at Gilman Street, Photo: Dave Sine


Vintage Richmond said...

Man, these City Gardens pics are fantastic. I was at that show, and the Inside Out set is easily in my top ten band sets of all time. They were INTENSE. Just unbelievable....

Anonymous said...

The Gilman photo is awesome.
Sterling playing as hard as he can. Zack's neck about to burst and looks like he is going to take the biggest growler of his life. Vic hitting abusing his guitar and Helmet looking like he is about to join the band for good on the spot. (he was playing for GB at the time i believe)

Anonymous said...

here is a great live video that comes close to capturing their essence

Anonymous said...

great band. gordo just held a writing work shop, that was a great read.

Neckdeep said...

Sorry, but I'm going with Tim in part 1...'Sacrifice' is the top song in the bunch. No question. It could be my favorite hardcore song of all time.

That being said, I think this video is just amazing:

Vic playing across the stage, Zack's jump at 1:55?!!! DAMN. It takes my breath away every time I watch.

Anonymous said...

Pretty convincing argument for Inside Out...they were good, this write up gives them a little too much credit but it was extremely well written and pretty damn funny...and damn right Vic looks like John Walker Lindh aka America Taliban.

The main problem that sours Inside Out for me is just how fishy of a dude Vic is...Zack had his own trip, but if Inside Out even stayed together for another year it would not have been the same band. Vic had a different gimmick literally every 6 months...hasn't he always? In a way, I'm surprised he hasn't denounced Inside Out. Great writer and player, it's just tough to take anything that guy has touched seriously.

Prime Directive said...

Agree with Neckdeep. "Sacrifice" is my favorite cut on that record. Total rager. The riff is awesome and the lyrics are pissed.

SFader said...

Great 2nd part Gordo.
Dudes, Sacrifice? Really? That song is awesome but live- I guess my opinion and memories come from live shows. We waited sooo long for the record to come out that the best sounding live songs for me are Undertone and No Spiritual Surrender. Undertone was just an insane frenzy and usually the crowd didn't know how to react until the slow part, which then of course EXPLODED. No Spiritual Surrender, although I TOTALLY agree about the repetitive ending (Zack's style, listen to RATM where he says "Fuck you I won't do what you tell me" 100 times) was the most intense song of the set. From the intro to the end, they just went insane, and so did the crowd screaming the song title with him, after a MASSIVE build up before it.

One more thing, although I like both Sterling and Helmet, Sterling was definitely more fun to watch, he seemed to get more loose with the band than Helmet did. (the pics, especially D.Sine's, really show it) And yes Vic was weird and kind of a dick, but he was Krishna hahahahaha

Anonymous said...

Yeah, this EP is a killer. This along with the Burn EP opened my eyes to the more "progressive" side of HxCx.

Can anyone provide a link to mp3's of the KXLU set???

Anonymous said...

There is actually a bootleg 7" out there, has been for ages, that is called 'Inside Out and Youth of Today benefit 7"' which features
Vic prominently on the cover and features following songs :

1. Inside Out 'Nowhere to turn (live) 1990
2. Inside Out 'A fight for life' (live) 1990
3. Inside Out 'Unbroken' (live) 1990
4. Inside Out 'Song with Sterling Wilson on Bass' (live) 1990

side b has :

5. Inside Out 'Blind Oppressor' (live) 1991
6. Inside Out 'No Spiritual Surrender' (live) 1991
7. Youth of Today 'Goodbye/Hello' (studio) 1990

The back of the sleeve has extensive liner notes by a guy named R.Y. - anyone has an idea who this is ? Dave Sine is credited for the Vic photo so maybe he might know ?

Thanks for another great entry that made me take out my 7"s to listen to again :))

Ed Goodlife

Neckdeep said...

I never had the pleasure of seeing them live, so I can't speak to that.

I will say I VERY much related to the strong lyrics of 'Sacrifice' and not the Krishna like 'No Spiritual Surrender'. I have always been quite anti-religion so that track just couldn't pack as much of a punch for me personally.

As for Vic...during the 'Inquirer' and Shelter days he was king Krisha and therefore pretty silly in my eyes. I would just read Zack's interviews denouncing Krisha and follow the Inside Out EP with a few Born Against tracks and feel better about the whole thing : ) .

sink or swim said...

Inside Out was great. One of my personal favorite's. It's sad that the new hardcore kid does not dig deeper and get into bands like this. They were a turning point in hardcore with the message and the songs.

Anonymous said...

Great job yet again, Gordo. Awesome pics in both parts as well.

Anonymous said...

Seriously, not enough credit can be given to Ken Salerno. This guy has provided the DCXX boys with some UNBELIEVABLE images...stuff I for one had never seen before. While I think the content on this site is great, it is often times the visuals from dudes like Salerno, Sine, Singer/Rock, that make everything really reach a boiling point (get it?).

For documenting a scene/era that is so much better presented with the proper visuals, this site really needs to be applauded for finding the right pics to properly tell the stories. And I'm not quite sure everyone realizes just how important some of these images are, and how vital these photographers work is. MUCH PRAISE AND THANKS!!!!!!!!!!!!

SFader said...

NeckDeep- I agree about the Krishna-ish lyrics. I was never into the spiritual stuff or religion either, and yeah Vic was annoying as hell, but I guess it's the power of the song and the screaming that gets me. Sacrifice is awesome, but at the time I just was never into HC songs that seemed to be about chicks hahahaha.

There was once a review of this EP by Sam from Born Against, basically he just rips it and talks about how he couldn't believe Sterling (who is awesome) was once in the band. I always thought that was funny.

Ben Edge said...

" In HC, you kinda get a pass with this type of thing if you have neck tattoos or are in the Pagans. "

The late 70s punk band from Ohio? Or is there also a gang by that name?

Anonymous said...

i don't wanna speak for gordo, but i would imagine since he is from joisey, he's refering to the pagans mc....even though the band was snotty and in your face, they couldn't hold a candle to the bikers.... and the pagans were involved in the punk/hc scene in the mid 80's.... one of their favorite hangouts, meeting places was the showplace, a biker bar in dover,nj....somebody had the bright idea to book bands there for a bit... dk's, black flag, suicidal, circle jerks, sister dbl. happiness( had an awesome chick drummer), doa and a few other bands played there.... only problem was, the gang was there for every show.... all drunk and cranked up... they thought the pit was the beat down zone.... classic night was henry fronting black flag... a biker threw a bottle at kira (she was playin' bass on that tour)henry jumped right in the guy's shit as the band played on...i thought it would end up bein' a real bloodbath, but cooler heads prevailed, and it was over before it began... it was a strange setup... the floor in front of the stage was concrete, so if you fucked up stage diving, you REALLY fucked up !!!! it all ended one night when they sold the place out for a circle jerks new years eve show, but took off with all the money.....anybody out there remember the showplace????? ks

chad said...

this is really nerdy.. but i love some Inside Out, so...

a small note on the 7" layout.. back in.. probably 1990...? i remember seeing a Revelation ad pre-advertising the Inside Out ep and the final Judge 7" together... it might have been in MRR. anyway, on the ad, Rev had made temporary comp artwork for the record covers because the actual records hadn't come out yet. of course i was stoked for any new Rev release so those cover images were frozen in my mind for records to look for/mailorder immediately.

at the time i didn't know they were temporary covers because i wouldn't see the actual vinyl for quite a awhile. the comped judge 7" cover had a totally different photo than the one that was eventually used. it was a closeup of lightning striking a clocktower and i actually still think the one on the ad is cooler than the actual one.

the inside out comp cover on the ad had the familiar zack photo from the ep, but instead it was full bleed pic occupying the entire cover (no borders) and a only a smallish Inside Out typewriter-style logo in the upper right hand corner. (if you ever saw any of the self-produced t-shirts that IO had with the really simple "INSIDE OUT" writing looking like.. well, a typewriter.. that's the logo.) the version of the record that we all know with the blue color & "spiritual" graphics that came out later is cool and all but i always kinda dug that rough version on the ad and wondered what the record would look like if the artwork had gone in that direction instead.

yohann666 said...

I have this show in video, and more from this band, if anyone have something that I don't have and want to trade, please let me know,