The overly distorted bass guitar that kicks off "Violent Thoughts" on Tucson hardcore punk stalwarts Man Bites Dog's self-titled debut, as abrasive as it is, is not indicative of how low this band will plunge into self-disgust. The lyrics are impenetrable but the sentiment isn't. You don't need to make out the words because the vocals are rampant with the omnidirectional loathing found in almost every hardcore band from the late '70s until now.
For even the most knowledgeable punk listener, a song like "Pry," while enthralling on its own, could be mistaken for a tune by any of the interchangeable bands in the history of Man Bites Dog's genre. The solution is how it sets the stage—by way of its very anonymity—for the second half of this five-song EP, which is where the band assumes its own identity.
Man Bites Dog goes from a great hardcore record to something that could be the future by taking the leftover feedback found at the end of a typical SST record from the '80s or the 15-second half-speed breakdown on another, and turning them into songs on their own. Sheer noise and stop-motion velocity supercharge the themes prevalent in "Stagnant," "Life in a Cage" and "Despise," as the slower beats turn into grooves and the guitar noise turns into melodies bleeding from the inside out. This sleight of hand is what propels the EP far from self-parody and makes the enfant terrible routine not just tolerable but welcomed.