TIMFS: Detestation – “A Is For…”

Detestation was a crust band from Portland that formed in 1994. Aside from being a generally awesome band, they were known for their amazing female singer Saira, who crushes.

I’ve listened to “A Is For…” more times than I’ve heard the word “gluten” since I’ve moved to Los Angeles. And for many reasons. The first being the slow, minute long build up that gets me super pumped up, especially since I know what it’s working towards, having listened to this song a million times.

Around 1:08, when the build up reaches its conclusion with a cymbal swell and the guitars ringing out, I’m extra pumped because of the suspense.  Suddenly,  1:19 the drums kick in by themselves under the ringing guitars. And if you know anything about hardcore punk, you know you’re about to get smashed in the face with awesome.

At 1:22 there’s a subtle pick slide, a snare roll and we’re off. At this point, if I’m in my car, we will be driving quite recklessly, with one fist pumping in the air. If there’s a passenger in the car, I’ll pump my left fist to avoid any accidental head punches.

At 1:32, we finally get what we’ve been waiting for. Saira’s vocals come screaming in. If you pay attention, the vocals are recorded on two separate tracks. Every line she sings overlaps the next, therefore creating a relentless, sonic storm that matches the driving tempo of the music.

The song beats you about the head for a solid minute, and then suddenly at 2:41, Detestation  does an E-brake slide. We have some cymbal grabs and ring outs, then boom we’re back to driving 100 mph off to the finish line. At 3:09 the vocals kick back in, bringing us a sort of summation of what “A Is For…” is all about:

When it comes to your own freedom
You don’t fucking care
All you really want
Is an excuse to fucking drink
Is it really too much to fucking expect
That you’d actually think

The song is basically about how there are a lot of punks who put anarchy patches on their clothes and on the surface espouse what punk and anarchy are all about, but really punk only serves as a vehicle to drink and party. They come to shows, sing along to lyrics about freedom and bettering yourself, but the ideas don’t actually penetrate into the brain, because shit let’s go do a bunch of angel dust in my van and go raw dawg each other. In short, you’re only punk for partying, and when you’re not at a punk show you’re not really punk, hitherto: you’re not really punk at all.

At 3:28, the tempo slows down a tad as we cruise into the finish as the drummer switches to a beat on the toms. Finally at 3:49 the riff from the intro returns, bringing us full circle with the whole band ringing out.

This song represents everything I love about punk: Time to mosh, time to thrash, awesome brutal vocals and lyrics that mean something to me. The majority of this song is driving in the exactly perfect, fist banging tempo that makes me often play it over again the second it finishes.

If you liked this song, here are some other songs by Detestation for your listening pleasure:

It’s impossible to have one single favorite song, but there are some songs that move me above and beyond most others. This Is My Favorite Song is a series where I explore the songs that, at least for that moment when I listen to them make me think “THIS IS MY FAVORITE SONG!”.