It is often easy to write off Fugazi as a stepping stone for Ian MacKaye after the disbandment of Minor Threat into a more tame, modern sound for straight-forward rock music. But immediately, that would be a disservice as Fugazi is an intricate beast of burden that has control over a crowd. While not as maniacal as Minor Threat or Rites of Spring, Steady Diet Of Nothing proves to be a strong second studio record to stand on.
From the subway terminal cover art that is taken with a layer of filth on top, or the name alone that strikes some sense of street undertone, Fugazi is a deeply sculpted set of tunes that begins with “Exit Only.” A fairly dry “democratic recording mix” leads to the heaviness coming from the way the instruments are played rather than the engineering of the record. While everything was done in-house with no outside producers or designers, Fugazi takes Steady Diet Of Nothing into a breaching sense. The first moments on “Exit Only” are incredibly foreboding as the wails of guitar and strings begin to close in on the listener.
As the track continues on, the framework for “Exit Only” is much more approachable with a larger focus on creating choruses that audiences can shout along to. Especially when combining the two vocalists Guy Picciotto and MacKaye, that also handle the guitar works. When Joe Lally is brought in on bass and Brendan Canty on the percussion, Steady Diet Of Nothing becomes complete as a display of power. Recognizable from the jump, Fugazi always seems to have these killer bass lines that invoke a continual groove for both the band and the listener to follow. Present as a highlight on “Runaway Return” as an underlying staple for the track, the string ensemble is dramatic and holds the attention as Fugazi begins to fall into organized chaos.
It may not protrude the same reaction as some of the early punk movements, but Fugazi still contains and encapsulates this same vein of energy that can hold a moshing quarter in the living room. Steady Diet Of Nothing is a record packed with excitement and each track pushes to give more than to pull and take. Through the 11 tracks and 36-minute ride that Fugazi presents, some of their more iconic stances come from the deeper cuts that are often overlooked from the record.
Fighting through the 90s with an overarching reach, each second packed into the sleeve is provoking and does more for the setting instead of the time period. Rather than a steady diet of nothing, Fugazi gives a substantial meal for newcomers and longtime fans.