Opening with “Betray,” the raging and stomping percussion from Jeff Nelson collects like a pouring rainfall that both collides and co-exists with lead guitar from Lyle Preslar and Brian Baker on rhythm guitar. Left to bear the brunt is Ian MacKaye on vocals and Steve Hansgen on the bass that as a punk stand-out record, actually holds weight behind the vibrance. The consistent snap on the snares from Nelson is a rapid-fire submachine gun that cracks rounds off as if it was his job.
Pushing to the lyrical narration, MacKaye who couldn’t have been more than 22 at the time of initial release, makes social commentary and is relatable at nothing else. Describing, “I thought we had the same ideas, but you, you proved me wrong. I’ve been played the fool before, but never for quite so long.” He formats on to shout, “So what now? Do we shake hands and go our separate ways? Or do I open my mind and follow you into the haze?”
The head shaking and thumping continues to occur as Minor Threat moves further into “It Follows” where MacKaye is the focus as his vocals melt over the rim and become a boiling grasp toward emotional grief. He describes, “All the stupid thinking, the stupid people thought. The rules that we lived by, the friends that we bought.”
Even as the sound bullrushes to pound away like a thunderous clap, the emotion tied to the lyrics orchestrate to shift and best suit for a live setting. Where the stage is no longer Minor Threat’s focus, the bass lines still contain enough to make even the most sane person want to do a face-first dive off the nearest speaker system. That energy transfer falls onto the title cut, “Out Of Step” which becomes more refined as time marches on.
The difference from the Self-Titled release to the Out Of Step LP becomes apparent as “Out Of Step” is still a frantic beatdown, but with cleaner fists for destruction. More about a shout from a youth that feels so isolated from others of the same age, “Out Of Step” essentially captures perfectly how punk was a sonic escape from reality.
To live and die in one’s own world is a fate that not only lives within the realm of Minor Threat, but the perfection of Out Of Step comes from its human touch. Every re-listen feels as if it was a past love with a new coat of paint. Fast, aggressive, but more importantly meaningful to more than just the crowds in the basements of an all-ages show.