The Stains

Live Performance

Nominee – 1996 6th Annual LA Music Awards

This 1983 LP is the sole release from a band that had the misfortune of picking a moniker common to the punk circles they ran in; other bands that performed under the same name include an early version of Texas hardcore legends MDC. These Stains were four L.A. locals exploring a proto-crossover punk/metal several years before it became ideologically sound to do so. They drank from the same well as their SST labelmates Black Flag, but the Stains lean further into the fires of pure metal for their speedy, sludgy hardcore, and this lone document (recorded by SST house producer Spot) has some fine physical moments. The band sounds like a warped Black Sabbath album on 45 rpm, guitarist Robert Becerra pouring out sloppy minor-chord patterns and noise solos while bassist Ceasar Viscarra and drummer Gilbert Berumen flail away in perfect sync. “Pretty Girls” is a standout, a tuneless riff stomping around in circles while vocalist Rudy Navarro shouts himself hoarse telling off the girls who won’t talk to him. Navarro touches on a few token political topics, condemning Nazis and suburbia in blunt strokes, but he’s at his best with misanthropic anthems like “Quit the Human Race” and “Get Revenge,” or the classic anti-parent “Sick and Crazy” (“Mom and Dad, I’m “sick and crazy!”). Becerra slides into wild flurries of soloing whenever the mood hits him, reaching for licks well beyond his technical skills and ending up in much more interesting territory as a result. Some of the material bears passages of pure HM composition that sound like early Slayer riffs, proving the Stains well ahead of their time in the Los Angeles rock scene. After the band’s demise, bassist Viscarra and drummer Berumen worked with former Black Flag utility man Dez Cadena in DC3; Viscarra later joined cowpunkers Blood on the Saddle.