While the third studio record, I Against I sounds like nothing set before it. The record is a clash of their ripping punk style but also is a transition piece into a more approachable, almost clean cut movement when stood alongside their previous work at the time. With H.R. on the vocals, Dr. Know turns strings to shreds with the guitar. Darryl Jenifer champions with the bass and this crash of lightning is formed over Earl Hudson on the percussion. Together, a quartet of PMA opens the floodgates into something truly beautiful disguised as a 10 track, 31 minute long production.
Opening with the simply titled “Intro,” the track is a grand allusion to these golden doors that swing open as low-tuned instruments collide to spark and break apart into the self-titled track “I Against I.” This is where the lyrics start to spout and begin to awe the listener in this fast spit delicacy. Describing, “In the quest for the test to fulfill an achievement, everybody’s always going to pursue themselves. When the fact of the matter is they just don’t care, to extend a helping hand to anyone else.” As the instrumental walls close in, Bad Brains puts H.R. in the middle of the chaos.
The following piece, “House Of Suffering” is a standout where the I Against I can somehow manage this 80’s gloss without entirely succumbing to being a timestamp that deteriorates. Instead, this layering, while not packed densely, is a perfected blend of the obsidian style hard’s and the soft styled cesium. This blend molds to craft I Against I as the most digestible piece of their discography.
One of the final tracks, “Sacred Love” is the most intriguing step in the recoding process as it sounds like H.R. is distorted and muffled through the vocal delivery. It was at this time that H.R. was actually arrested and during his placement in jail, Bad Brains continued the recording process and had H.R. deliver his lines over the prison phone. He even makes possible references to this through his bridge, “I’m in here, you’re out there, We know what’s right. No crying, no lying, our hearts declared.”
But as I Against I turns into the final track, it is discovered that no matter the force, I and I will survive. Running purely off the emotion of spiritual empowerment, Bad Brains are an effigy toward musical progression that no matter how intense the flames burn, will provide strength through unity.