Black Flag Albums Ranked

Black Flag is an American punk rock band formed in 1976 in Hermosa Beach, California. Initially called Panic, the band was established by Greg Ginn, the guitarist, primary songwriter, and sole continuous member through multiple personnel changes in the band. They are widely considered to be one of the first hardcore punk bands, as well as one of the pioneers of post-hardcore. Black Flag’s sound mixed the raw simplicity of the Ramones with atonal guitar solos and, in later years, frequent tempo shifts. The lyrics were written mostly by Ginn, and like other punk bands of the late 1970s and early 1980s, Black Flag voiced an anti-authoritarian and nonconformist message, in songs punctuated with descriptions of social isolation, neurosis, poverty, and paranoia. Here are all of Black Flag’s albums ranked.

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7. What The… (2013)

“The first few times I heard this album, I thought it was the siren call of a new era of Black Flag. I looked past the hideous cover art and saw through to the content within; songs that I – in the moment – found driving and powerful. In hindsight, I’m rather confident that I was just attracted to the idea of Black Flag doing punk again. Ron Reyes was pretty good on the Jealous Again EP, but he has no business singing on this album. His vocals here sound like a parody of hardcore you’d hear on SNL or something. And the guitar… sweet Jesus, the guitar. Greg Ginn has long passed his prime and is now just self-indulgently noodling over boring, repetitive songs – most of which are in the key of E. It’s a 22-track album and most of them are in the key of E. Like, are they even trying?”

6. Loose Nut (1985)

“while not the best flag cd.. probably one of the weaker ones.. it is still a 5 star album that i could listen to every day. there is no real stand out tracks but the album as a whole from start to finish is undeniable. one thing about black flag that i love is how they change they’re sound every record yet sound like black flag. im obsessed with black flag. flag cds with rollins in order… my war, slip it in, in my head,loose nut, damaged.”

5. Family Man (1984)

“Family Man is a real change-up for not only Black Flag fans, but also fans of this type of music. A spoken word album was a new concept, and Black Flag experimented with it. The end product is an album that will make you laugh, shake your head, and be in awe of the instrumental songs later in the album. The listener gets to experience the twisted and disturbed mind of Henry Rollins (I personally think Rollins is totally sane and just does this sort of stuff for entertainment purposes), at least when it comes to being the vocalist of Black Flag. Rollins delivers poetic passages, talks about pouring salt on a slug and getting a kick out of it (dark humor, if you ask me), talks about hopelessness (No Deposit, No Return), and sticks up for those rodents known as rats. He also shares his views on the suburban family man. It’s one of those things that’s funny, but it’s not funny. Dark humor.”

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4. In My Head (1989)

“Mid-80s Black Flag was the end of an era. The best hardcore band ever kept putting out heavy, depressing, grungy albums with lost of rants and screams by frontman Henry Rollins. I had this 20 years ago and it was never my favorite, but always had that catchy sound to headbang. I Still dig this cd, it is primal hardcore/rock pre-metal and marked the end of great run. Not as good as previous 80’s releases, but every song is solid and well worth the used price, buy it!”

3. Slip It In (1984)

“This album as well as all the Rollins fronted Black Flag material was not that well received among hard core punk followers at the time. But looking back on it today, has become classic American music that really defines a particular period when in the eighties, as all the big hair bands were “rocking out” the nation, this music was laying the ground work for grunge’s appearence in the 90’s.”

2. Damaged (1981)

“Damaged” is a punky nasty album full of piss and vinegar. The guitars are thick and wonderfully sloppy in the right places, Rollins is already a very expressive vocalist, and in the face of synth pop, wimpy New Wave and the dying gasps of AOR bloated rock still hanging on, Black Flag and many to follow would keep rock and roll alive until metal started to get a lot heavier, blew off hair bands, fought off grunge, which, except maybe for the late great Gruntruck, who were the most metal of all Seattle grunge slobs, and created thrash and death, once again scaring easily intimidated adults and for a while keeping underground scenes alive.”

1. My War (1984)

“This album was a integral part of my coming of age…a conduit for my angst and anger…a healthy outlet that affirmed my doubts and internal struggles. 30 years later it brings me back to that same place. I’m not sure that is a good thing but it is a reminder that the struggle continues. I have to be careful when I listen to it because if I am not already enraged, I surely am after listening to this. The vinyl is dead silent, no cracks of pops, excellent heavy pressing and the artwork is spot on from the SST release I bought out of the back of a Thrasher mag in the 80’s.”