It came out of nowhere in 1982, this punk rock/hardcore fireball with the bright yellow sleeve. In one sense, The Zero Boys’ Vicious Circle was yet another example of how U.S. punk seemed to peak coast to coast that year. But unlike most coastal punk, the Zero Boys were pointing the way to a scene that could accommodate heaping helpings of melody, intelligence, and rock ‘n’ roll sus, not just turbo-charged ferocity.
From 1979 into ’83, the Indianapolis based ZBs were the finest hardcore blitz in the Midwest if not all the lower 48 states. Proof is Vicious Circle and the two decades since of copyists, bootleggers, practitioners and reunion concert pogoers.
Though before and after that LP’s 1982 release they recorded the Livin’ in the 80’s 7″, songs for three comps and released the post-mortem History Of… cassette revealing their transformation into a toured band warming to the metaphysical and their demise while still waving torches of rock ‘n’ roll panache.
Now, collected here and remastered from the original tapes is the proof, if more was needed, that their take of American hardcore wasn’t all white bread numbers. Yeah, they played shows with Minor Threat, Dead Kennedys, Subhumans, and others but in Terry “Hollywood” Howe’s guitar there was harmonious terror and unstoppable cadence. Terry’s licks and chops — a leap beyond two or three chord punk — offered a zone and measured count for drummer Mark Cutsinger and bassist David “Tufty” Clough, a rhythm unit in par with the Minutemen if not The Meters, to run lines like quicksilver. Meanwhile, frontman, Paul “Z” Mahern provides a constant wash from beginning to end.
When the Ramones lost it, the Zero Boys found it; Adding a slam brigade fist to the Blitzkrieg Beat. The Zero Boys managed to come with one of the best early 80’s punk records, or one of the best records ever, period.
Between Vicious Circle and History Of, the entire recorded output of this legendary Midwest punk band’s original line up is, finally, collected.
-Culminated from liner notes written by Jack Rabid and Eric Weddle
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