Boston's Explosion make the major-label leap with Black Tape, but their decision to leave the independent ranks hasn't diluted their exuberantly revivalist sound. Recording Tape with helmer Jason Carmer at a remote outpost of Idaho, the quintet triangulates the Social D streets of Los Angeles with the urgency of the D.C. hardcore tradition, and runs it all through the 1977-begging street punk of Boston's proud neighborhoods. There's more clarity in this approach than the tack taken by some of the Explosion's peers, who blend the rawness of punk with somewhat incongruous elements (elaborate string sections, say, or hip-hop beats). Instead of blowing up their sound, the Explosion have constricted further the already economic playing of their Jade Tree Records past. Black Tape concentrates on 12 songs with righteous vocal melodies and an array of guitar tones that recall 1993 (think Jawbreaker's 24 Hour Revenge Therapy) or even earlier. First single "Here I Am" and the twin kick of "I Know" and "Filthy Insane" are undeniable jags of group choruses and devastatingly effective punk revivalism; they hurl empty pint glasses in the direction of "Atrocity" and "Go Blank," where Matt Hock wonders with true honesty about the broken world we're living in. "I won't fight in any wars and I can't stand to see much more...But if you want a better world/Then I'll be right behind you." His lyrics connect the Explosion to that sense of volatile hope that pulsed through American hardcore in the early '80s. Back then, kids started bands to get angry, but also to have a voice, and hopefully find some answers. The Explosion preaches for unity in that tradition, and scene honesty in the rousing "No Revolution." On Black Tape, they're always railing against something larger (as the hardcore-derived opener "Deliver Us" does right away), instead of dwelling on the inner pain and heartbreak that seems to so preoccupy their revivalist contemporaries.
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AllMusic Review by Johnny Loftus