American Steel

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In 1991, one could argue that ADZ was basically the Adolescents with a name change; back then, ADZ boasted three ex-members of the great Los Angeles punk band: lead singer Tony Reflex, guitarist Rikk Agnew, and drummer Casey Royer. But Agnew and Royer have long since left ADZ, and only Reflex remains from ADZ's original 1991 lineup -- on American Steel, the 2002 edition of ADZ includes Reflex, guitarist George Paras, bassist Bruce Duff (formerly of .45 Grave), and drummer Mike Candalot. (ADZ became a five-person band when guitarist Sylvie Lacroix was added after this album was recorded). Even though ADZ has been a revolving door, it has always underscored Reflex's Adolescents-minded vision. And on American Steel, ADZ is as Adolescents-minded as ever. This 2002 release isn't the least bit groundbreaking; Reflex remains faithful to the L.A. punk sounds of the late '70s and early '80s, and that is just as well because he is still great at what he does. American Steel won't win any awards for innovation, but ADZ's 2002 lineup never fails to sound focused and inspired on this CD (which is dominated by original material but contains an infectious cover of Turbonegro's "Good Head"). Throughout the album, Reflex comes across as someone who continues to live and breathe old-school American punk -- he's a punk survivor who still identifies with the type of rawness, simplicity, and gut-level emotion that made L.A. bands like Black Flag, the Circle Jerks, and, of course, the Adolescents, so appealing back in the day. American Steel never pretends to reinvent the wheel, but it's a likable effort that is easily recommended to those who still can't get enough of classic West Coast punk.

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