V is for Void

VoidAs I get older I tend to appreciate melodic punk rock more than the hardcore variety. When I was younger I loved listening to hardcore thrash that sped along at 100mph. Let’s face it though, after a while that style of punk rock can get a little old. A lot of the music that fell into that category I can’t listen to today. The lack of musicianship was many times a key but the lack of a pure pop hook was usually the primary reason.

However, there are times when a band that created music that precisely fits those characteristics can still move me today. Void from Columbia, Maryland (not Washington, D.C. like many people believe) may have created some of the fastest hardcore thrash punk ever laid down to vinyl. There was nothing pretty or fake about this band. Lead singer John Weiffenbach, guitarist Jon “Bubba” Dupree, bassist Chris Stover and drummer Sean Finnegan simply picked up their instruments (or mic in Weiffenbach’s case) and played as hard and fast as they possibly could. The lyrics were at times incredibly violent, Bubba was a wild man on the axe and the rhythm section was just as intense. It was a heck of a chaotic listening experience and I loved every minute of it once I “got it”.

I say that because at first I was not a big fan of the band. The Void/Faith LP was released in 1982 but it was not until a fanzine that circulated around Sunnyslope High School my sophomore year did I learn of the band. People today have no idea just how different things were back in the day. We did not have the internet to learn about different bands. Therefore, word of mouth was the best way to discover new music and the punk scene was possibly the best example of doing that. Fanzines were created to get the word out about this music and independent record labels such as Dischord Records in D.C. released music from these bands. I wish I could remember the name of that fanzine but I do remember that Robert Lerma from The Father Figures wrote a little piece about the Void/Faith album. I ordered the album through the mail from Dischord, received it a couple of weeks later and at first was not overly impressed. If it makes sense, even though I was just 15 at the time the music was actually too fast and too intense. I preferred the Faith side, twelve songs that were as intense but they were not delivered in a manner where I felt like I was being socked in the face.

Void may have been the unofficial favorite band of The Sunnyslope Crew during that year though, so I kept playing the Void side over and over until I was capable of comprehending things. 30 years later I still fully believe the members of that band did not really care if they were in sync with one another. My interpretation to this day is that each member simply set out to play as hard and as fast as they could for the short duration of each song. It may not have been a thing of beauty but no one can listen to that album and deny the overwhelming power. They truly were a crossover band before that became a generic term due to the way the band meshed punk rock and metal.

The band also released three songs on the legendary Flex Your Head compilation from Dischord, an essential piece of vinyl if you claim to be a fan of punk rock. I prefer the version of “My Rules” on Flex Your Head but trust me, it is just as brutal on Void/Faith. The beginning of the first song “Who Are You” is absolutely vicious and sets the tone in the most proper manner. You know you are in for a wild ride immediately.

Now here is the joy of the internet. I can’t believe I found a live clip of “My Rules” so of course I have to give you that. However, the sound quality is pretty rough so I am giving you the Flex Your Head version as well. Double enjoy.

Cheers!

Album Inspiration: Void/Faith split LP

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