United Mutation: Dark Self Image: LP
This collection is a fitting tribute to one of D.C.’s most overlooked bands. United Mutation played fast and hard during the early days of D.C. punk. UM’s thrash-velocity hardcore beats and gravel-tinged vocals helped develop speed in the Nations’ Capitol. This 26-song collection was remastered at Inner Ear Studios. The collection compiles tracks from recording sessions for several of the band’s singles. Songs from Fugitive Family and Kyo Ki, and Götterdämmerung 7”s appear on the LP along with six previously unreleased tracks. That’s 26 short blasts of furious punk with growling vocals the likes of which became a standard in punk and grind.
The band’s sound is driven by brutal guitar distortion with echo creating chaos. Deep growl vocals emanate from a din of reverb-laden guitar and high speed hardcore beats. “Fugitive Family”, the tile track from their first single, opens with a melodic ride up and down the opening riff. The song elevates from the heat of the drums, breaking for a frantic and over-reverb-ed solo and descends until all that’s keeping the song afloat is distorted bass. Musically a lot happens in a short time. The songs stay punk while offering a strategically short psychedelic ride in less than two minutes.
The album comes with a 24-page booklet worth the price of purchase. The art direction of the band has its own merit. Collage-style flyers and album covers evoke the era of politically charged punk without being derivative. The artwork is bleak and often minimalistic without using typical imagery. Sci-fi and political themes clash for quick jabs of sarcastic humor and Reagan-era commentary. The whole thing comes on quality paper stock. Getting it sent to you feels like getting an art book in the mail. Radio Raheem has produced a nice product: a lost document from the early punk era with a hint of indecipherable transmission from another planet mixed in. The band played a lot of shows but never traveled much out of the D.C. area. Hopefully this excellent LP will shine light on a criminally underrated band. This is one of the most important and full-on look-backs to come out in a while. Don’t miss this one. – Billups Allen (Radio Raheem)