Code of Honor

Reviews

Code of Honor / Sick Pleasure Fight Or Die / Dolls Under Control LP reissue

After being out of print for 30 years, one of the best—if not the best—records to come out of the early ’80s Northern California hardcore milieu has finally been reissued. I imagine many readers may also know these songs by heart, but for anyone needing a quick summary: SICK PLEASURE was the earlier band of the two, with a fun, dumb antisocial vibe, and whose singer Niki Siki later joined VERBAL ABUSE and took some of his lyrics here with him. CODE OF HONOR came shortly after, had the same backing band but with vocalist Johnithin Christ, were more accomplished musically, and whose personally and politically earnest sentiment served as a contrast to Siki’s irreverence. While SICK PLEASURE was singing “Destroy / Destroy / Destroy the human race” and writing songs about killing the Muni driver, CODE OF HONOR was saying (literally saying, in this example) “Kill all the politicians and no one else will die,” and urging listeners to question who and what they were living for. Radiation Records deserves a good deal of credit for putting together what is mostly a faithful reproduction, so that band-approved inspiration and/or stupid fun can be had to these songs on the proper analog medium for $20 instead of $100. However, there is a slight but very noticeable difference in the font used for the band names on each band’s side of the split. I imagine this was done for logistical reasons, but it’s still a bit disappointing. All of that said, it’s great to have these songs back on vinyl, and not a moment too soon.

Code of Honor Beware the Savage Jaw LP

Some people can’t stand this record, but I think it’s quite good. Jonithin’s voice is still pretty snotty, Mike’s guitar playing is better than ever, and the rest of the band doesn’t miss a beat. Even more importantly, the songwriting is more accomplished, and there are all kinds of textures that one normally doesn’t find on a “punk” album. Although a couple of turkeys here make me wonder about their next release, this one’s expansive.

Code of Honor What Are We Gonna Do? / What Price Would You Pay? 7″

Strong (and occasionally annoying) heavy metal influences punctuate both sides of this hardcore offering by SF’s own CODE OF HONOR. “What Are…” grapples with the important issue of passivity in the current punk scene, while the somewhat slower B-side addresses a variety of societal ills. Highly credible and articulate lyrics.

Code of Honor / Sick Pleasure Fight or Die / Dolls Under Control split LP

Glad SICK PLEASURE bit the dust, this being a posthumous release—too heavy metal for my taste, with lyrics of equal mentality. CODE OF HONOR side is much better—still traces of metal (Mike Fox being guitarist in both bands) but the thrash cuts are tight, with interesting variations. Jonithin Christ’s (ex-SOCIETY DOG) lyrics and vocals make all the difference here—he’s graduated from nihilism to advocacy of peace, unity, and political action.