In the midst of their recruitment of vocalist Henry Rollins, the band’s work ethic seriously improved as they recorded and dropped most of the discography here from the notable Damaged to the later onslaughts like Loose Nut. Loose Nut was released in 1985 and was one of the last steps that Black Flag took before eventually switching the seemingly revolving door of lineup changes and transitions into the death of punk rock.
Opening with the self-titled track, “Loose Nut,” the record is a re-invigoration of Black Flag’s energy that packs dynamite into the speakers. They are immensely aggressive and know how to trigger that alpha instinct of movement, but can refine the energy to be harnessed as a positive explosion. There involves the lead vocals from Rollins and then having Greg Ginn on the guitars that also features Bill Stevenson of Descendents and All fame on the percussion. Wrapping up the rhythm section holds Kira Roessler on the bass and backing vocals who would round out her career with Black Flag’s studio sessions on the ’86 release In My Head.
Roessler on Loose Nut is actually one of the more pivotal and featured acts for the record as her bass playing on “Best One Yet” or “This Is Good” become the openers for the tracks. She stretches into these weird segments and grooves like on “This Is Good” that while difficult to get into by itself when combined with the other instruments is an appreciated component of style. And that carries into most of Loose Nut; for a record that is only nine tracks, Black Flag packs an overabundant amount of sound and variety into the 34-minute performance.
Especially on “Sinking” which is a stand-out for Loose Nut where the vinyl becomes scorched and etched from dropping the needle in the same spot so many times. Rollins describes one of the better verses lyrically even if his performance is mostly dead until the second verse. He describes, “Sinking, waiting, thinking, sinking all the while. It hurts to be alone when it hurts to be alone.”
As the solos from Ginn and the percussion ramps up, Rollins becomes more progressive in thought, describing his own demise. He illustrates, “Cutting my teeth on the blues, soul sinking to the bottom of my shoes. Thinking my life’s a waiting game, staring at my grave and feeling the same.” From the shouts of the bedroom at 3 A.M. in the morning or in the bitter hours of a cold, miserable mourning; “Sinking” is the fragile dirt underneath the coffin that shakes and trembles.
The salt burns as the wound reopens, again and again, every time Black Flag slides into the ears, destruction seems close. It is this poetic relation to being both in control of everything and nothing at the same time, sinking and dying and then falling back into the misery of never gaining agile footing in a shifting society that steps over you instead of raising you up.