The Dark 

Scream Until We Die (Grand Theft Audio)

Healthy skepticism was a driving force behind old-school punk, so it's only appropriate to greet reissues with bated breath. Some bands are highly regarded simply because they're the soundtrack to a place and time, and they're not worth a listen unless you were there. The Dark's discography stands on its own.

Scream Until We Die collects 78 tracks recorded between 1981 and '84. The group was fronted by Tom Dark, who's better known for Stepsister, which begat Amps II Eleven. Extensive liner notes feature pictures of the now-legendary figures as moody kids who apparently spent a ton of time in each other's basements, taking notes on the Germs and TSOL.

Dark is given to raw screaming -- a novelty at the time. The band always sounds like it's about to go off the rails, but it never does. The unpolished tunes range from flat-out hardcore ("Hit Squad") to gloomy post-punk ("Hall of Mirrors"). Some enterprising young band should save the 10 bucks it would spend on the next Victory Records release. Buy this instead -- steal the songs, and wait for the record-deal offers to roll in.

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