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This Is Hardcore: The Explosion – Flash Flash Flash

Gallows guitarist Lags picks his essential hardcore and punk releases – every Thursday on TeamRock

Boston has always enjoyed a respectable hardcore scene. Bands like SS Decontrol, Negative FX, Gang Green and Jerry’s Kids were among the first wave of American hardcore acts to break out of Massachusetts. More recently, acts like Blood for Blood, Slapshot, American Nightmare and Converge have continued to uphold Boston’s reputation for straightforward yet provocative punk rock. With so many great scenes situated along America’s East Coast, the healthy competition would often mean certain bands risked being overlooked within their own community.

Boston’s reputation for more aggressive acts would inevitably exclude from their ranks local punks The Explosion. The five-piece were inspired by the punk sound of 1977 rather than the combative stylings of early 80s hardcore – the foundation of Boston’s scene. Determined to make a name for themselves nonetheless, the release of The Explosion’s debut album Flash Flash Flash in 2000 turned more heads than the band could ever have predicted.

It was the follow up to The Explosion’s self-titled EP, both of which were released on Jade Tree Records, notorious taste makers within the punk scene. While the first recordings came across budget and sloppy, this album captured the electrifying energy without forfeiting any quality in sound. This noticeable change allowed the band to make the transition from bedroom punks to underground purists, carrying on the tradition of heritage acts like The Clash and The Buzzcocks while bringing it up to date with an arresting sass and tenacious attitude. This bridge between old and new was reinforced through their artwork and personal style. 

Flash Flash Flash is an embodiment of cool that exists outside of musical trends. From the girl in the Jackie O sunglasses stencilled on the cover to the rousing punk swagger that spills from every song during its 27-minute duration. It’s no wonder today’s rock and roll hardcore heroes The Bronx cite The Explosion as one of their main influences. Lead singer Matt Hock, decked in Fred Perry and covered head to toe in tattoos, delivers a rapacious performance that combines melody and pure punk brattiness in equal measures.

While the songs that make up Flash Flash Flash are simple four-chord structures that acknowledge punk’s forefathers, it’s what they achieve in those short two and a half minute blasts that make this album stand out. Album opener, No Revolution, delivers on every level – brash guitars, attacking drums, rolling bass and a gang vocal fuelled chorus hook that instills the band’s rebellious nature in just four words – “There’s no revolution anymore”.

The underground success of Flash Flash Flash caught the attention of major labels who saw marketing promise in their catchy choruses and punk as hell image. The release of Black Tape on Virgin Records in 2004 wasn’t so much a progressive move for the band but rather a blind step, straight into the grips of the music industry machine. Their second album for Virgin Records, recorded in 2006, ended up being shelved for five years and soon after in 2007 the band called it quits. Flash Flash Flash will always remain the underground hit that punk so desperately called out for at the turn of the century. 

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