This album along with Flipper's debut "Generic" inspired the mixing of hardcore punk with the slow and heavy sound of doom metal, which would later go on to be known as "sludge". If you dig bands like Melvins and Eyehategod then you need this album. The last 3 songs in particular are some of the heaviest and most powerful in punk rock.
I personally prefer this to Damaged but then again I'm a sucker for albums that blur the lines between punk and metal.
Yes, 'Damaged' is perhaps their seminal work, but My War certainly kicks on its heels as a classic album from the 80s. My War is a Jekyll and Hyde of an album, one side full of short songs, the other comprised of just three long tracks. Some folk say it's like Black Sabbath, I just think of it as pure Black Flag. Ozzy could never hit the lows of Nothing Left Inside, or My War's 'You're one of them'. Rollins peaks on this album, and hits the notes like a drained Iggy Pop, dragging notes up from the gutter. But is it metal, well no, and it's not punk, so is it a punk-metal crossover, no. It simply shows how intelligent Black Flag were; producing two classic albums, which are very distinctive, and sound so dissimilar you'd think they were not from the same band. In fact you might not like it if you're a BF purist, or a nu-metal-man. But as Henry once said, 'You think that you're my friend but you're one of them'. Wasted? Still am...
I'd been meaning to get my hands on a Black Flag album for some time and decided to purchase 'My War' as I'd heard good things. It doesn't disappoint. Like many have commented it's something of an album of two half's. The first six tracks are pure 80's hardcore; fast, righteous, adrenaline fueled punk-rock. Like a lot of music from this time it sounds as vital as ever (although I do find you have to turn it up pretty loud as it's recorded pretty quietly by today's standards- no complaint really). The last three tracks see 'Flag adopt a Sabbath/Kyuss type style with slow, repetitive riffs replacing their usual frantic pace. Greg Ginn is a pretty impressive guitarist. It's a shift in style that works well- just listen to Rollins howling on the appropriately named 'Scream'. I can't believe it took me so long to get something by Black Flag! A really great album. If yr new to them like I am you might also enjoy acts such as Big Black, Fugazi and even the early Lemonheads stuff ('Hate Your Friends' & 'Lick')....
In some ways this could be seen as Black Flag's first proper album with Rollins. Most of the best tracks on DAMAGED were done better with other vocalists. Here the worlds most muscular poet sounds like a bull-moose with The Blues. MY WAR is more like big gnarly rock than hardcore, although still recognizably Black Flag's take on punk. There is also a dissonant mangled element to the music that points towards the pre-grunge punk infused hard rock of Killdozer and the atonal assault of Big Black. It's better than either because it isn't so self-consciously "alternative". Ginn sounds great on this record, loose and tight at the same time. LOOSE NUT and SLIP IT IN were more playful, but the density of this record IMO is more impressive and comes closest to the sort of progressive punk sensibility SST were aiming for.
There is no such thing as an easy Black Flag album. With the possible exception of Damaged, Black Flag made challenging on the edge punk rock that pushed their listeners to the extremes. Henry Rollins's tortured vocals rise above the scorching guitar work of Greg Ginn right from the blitz of the opening track 'My War', through 'Cant Decide' and on to the grinding efforts on side two. My War is a album that pushes boundaries. It's in no way easy listening, but is very raw and soulful in a uniquely raucous way. An essential punk document of the times.
I think it's a disgrace that this album is so overlooked in comparison to Damaged. Whilst I love Damaged, this is a far more satisfying album. The album kicks off with the brutal title track before launching into a further 5 tracks of angry and outraged punk rock. It is the last 3 tracks however that for me encapsulates the quality of this album. It truley demonstrated that Black Flag weren't your average Hardcore band who were only obsessed with speed. They are very Sabbath-like in their tempo, which to me is no bad thing as I love Sabbath. I would advise people not to listen to this if they are depressed however as it is certainley not a comforting album! However it is a superb one.
I cannot believe that there are not no reviews for this album! I have had this on vinly for about 10 years and it is still as pleasing to hear today as it was when I was a lad. This album is a true classic and EVERYBODY should buy it. Side one starts with a raucous Rollins screaming ' My War, you're one of them, you say that you're my friend, but you're one of them!'. At the end of side one your heart is pounding, your ears are bleeding and you are stilljumping around the room playing Greg Ginn style air guitar. Side one is truly a relentless monsoon. Side 2 only has three tracks. 3 tracks..on one side...and its punk? The 3 songs are of a much slower pace but they give the chance playing a more mellowed bass line on your air guitar. If you only ever buy one Black Flag album mnake sure it is this one. You will never regret it.