Not too long ago, Dave Grohl made the acquisition of one Neve 8028 console, which served as the focal point of a documentary he’d helmed in honor of Sound City Studio. As the console had had a profound impact on the trajectory of his life and career, (as it was the console that had mixed the game-changing album Nevermind from that little band Grohl had been a part of in the early 90s), certainly it could be used to restore an unmixed and badly damaged master tape from twenty-plus years ago alongside a lost guitar track. Certainly, Grohl could be entrusted to potentially invigorate the legacy of an underappreciated band, namely the skate thrashers Bl’ast.

In 1987, Bl’ast released It’s in My Blood on SST Records. Somehow evading the legendary status that other hardcore bands from the era have managed to maintain, especially that of labelmates Black Flag, Bl’ast, in some ways, better epitomized the chord progression crossover musicality that Greg Ginn had been exploring on later Black Flag albums through jazz-centric rhythms and jam heavy instrumentation. It’s fair to say that Ginn’s vision stretched further than his abilities as a guitarist, but I consider many of his "failures" as putting in the work so as to eventually fortify his aptitude for that level of composition. He took Black Flag to some interesting places creatively, and I’ll always respect him for that.

Bl’ast, however, sounded as if they had a better grasp on how to make this progression work and listening to Grohl’s treatment of this previously unreleased session performed during William Duvall’s quick stint as the band’s second guitarist, (he’s currently a vocalist and guitarist for Alice In Chains), resultant in an almost track-for-track reboot simply titled Blood!, my first thought was, “Fuck! I wish Grohl could do this for all the Black Flag releases.” As Grohl notes in a small featurette (via Noisey) on his role in Blood!’s making, production in the 80s relied heavily on effects that seem ridiculous by current standards. So, relative to the It’s in My Blood mix, he reduced the filters, dialed up the guitars and basically produced a sonic love letter to the band, co-signing Southern Lord’s Greg Anderson (as he is a diehard fan).

As far as the tracks, with Duvall accredited alongside guitarist Mike Neider, the overall push and propulsion of Bl’ast’s attack is better realized and much more full. The opening bass notes of “Only Time Will Tell” (courtesy of Dave Cooper) are far more audible than they’d been originally and factor heavily as far as track’s urgency. Riff-wise, the band’s arrangements throughout songs like “Shhhhh!” and “Sometimes” standout and benefit greatly from the filter reduction, though never to the point of sounding sterile. As cleaned up as Blood! is next to its original form, there is at least some attempt at keeping grit within the details. Bill Torgerson’s drum sounds are probably the cleanest thing about the album, which, considering some of the tom and cymbal textures achieved, (check out “Sliding Down” and the last minute or so of “It’s in My Blood”), presents no detriment. The interestingly conceived “Sequel,” enjoys a fascinating depth unheard in its ‘87 variation.

Overall, it can be said through the newfound clarity given these songs that they now find a resonance and power that had been largely obscured by its original production. The level of strength Bl’ast had sought to express could be understood, but not necessarily heard as it might have been intended. It speaks to the abilities of the band that they were able to bring this energy through the abundance of haze that drowned much of what the band did musically, and in instances like this when treasures can be located and subsequently bestowed upon us properly, we’re thankful that sound mastery exists and that passion motivates the preservation of what’s been long forgotten in the hopes of offering it new life.