FOR SOME of America's hardcore punk bands, the search for a musical future has led to a tentative embrace of more commercial rock styles without sacrificing punk's unique fervor and ideology. A case in point is DOA, an early hardcore band from Vancouver with a reputation for aggressive punk sounds and political sloganeering.
On the group's new album, "Let's Wreck the Party," the band maintains its socially militant lyrics, while negotiating its sound into the conventions of hard rock and heavy metal.
If you weren't paying attention to DOA's attacks on imperialists, yuppies, racists and apathy in general, you could mistake a lot of this record for Blue Oyster Cult or Motorhead. Producer Brian Macleod has granted DOA a dynamic sound that highlights Dave Gregg's crunching metallic guitar work and Joey Keighley's British-sounding vocals.
Still, most of the songs on "Let's Wreck the Party" are pedestrian precisely because of the band's hard rock mannerisms.
The best songs meld the band's black humor and tough politics with something more invigorating than power rock cliches. "General Strike" is a Clash-style rock anthem; "Dance of Death" is a mock-radical number; and "Singing in the Rain" is the classic played like a boozy, frat house singalong.
You can't blame DOA for seeking a broader musical forum, but most of the riffs here were worn out in the '70s.
Government Issue is a D.C. hardcore band that has been around since the genre's local inception, but it's never created a distinctive niche for itself. On "The Fun Just Never Ends," the band does liven up hardcore's raw, unrelenting assault with some nice doses of sardonic humor and the occasional psychedelic guitar line from Tom Lyle.
For the most part, though, John Stabb's monotonously hysterical vocals and the band's thick, distorted sound add up to the kind of tuneless rants that are championed only by those who want punk to remain a small, self-congratulatory world.