Out Cold

December 23, 2009

After twenty years Out Cold recently announced that the band has split due to "internal problems." The announcement came with little fanfare, which is not surprising when considering the fact that Out Cold were never really known as self promoters. In their extensive career the band released six full lengths, three seven inches, and split E.P.'s with six different bands. Over time they reached a cult status, often being referred to as "The most underrated band in the history of hardcore." While it's true that Out Cold never received too much hype here in the United States it is certainly not because their recordings or live shows lacked any sort of intensity. They managed to channel the anger, rawness, and energy of bands like Poison Idea, Negative Approach, SOA, and early Black Flag while also showing a level of musicality that bands in such a raw vein rarely possess.

Out Cold formed in 1989 in a small suburb of Massachusetts called Dracut. Dracut, which borders the mill city of Lowell (check your American history books) is a mostly middle class town which has no landmarks beyond perhaps a farm that makes its own fresh ice cream. Their original singer was named Kevin Mertens, and he was joined by bassist Mark Sheehan, drummer John Evicci, and guitarist Fred Evicci. Mertens and Fred Evicci played together in a band called Worse Than Useless who recorded a seven inch and were known for being sort of miscreants. Mark Sheehan also played bass with the G.G. Allin and it was Sheehan and John Evicci who would become the binding glue of the band throughout the years. In fact in 1994 Mark Sheehan took over vocal duties after the two members of Worse Than Useless left the band. Considering that Sheehan sang in the band for fifteen years it became inevitable that his voice would be the one that people think of when they hear the name Out Cold.

What was truly remarkable about Out Cold was that they never changed their sound. When they formed Boston hardcore's legend was mostly a memory. Slapshot and Wrecking Crew were playing, but there were no bands like SSD, the FU's or DYS playing around. The 1980's were becoming the 1990's and metal had a firm grip on hardcore. It may be because they formed at a time when their sound was already out of vogue, but Out Cold NEVER watered down their sound with metal. Every record that they put out was raw hardcore punk. Considering the fact that it is almost unheard of for a hardcore band to ever record a second L.P. before morphing into either a metal, rock or an art band this is a pretty impressive feat. In Out Cold's catalog there is no equivalent to "One Voice," "Soul Force Revolution," "Quickness," "Blast Furnace," "Revenge," "Balboa Fun Zone," or "Break It Up." What's even more phenomenal is that they improved with every record. Their last L.P., "Goodbye, Cruel World" was the best record that they ever put out! Prior to this their last two full lengths were "Will Attack If Provoked" and "Two Broken Hearts Are Better Than One," which are also great records. "Two Hearts" in fact featured "Crawlspace" which was probably the band's most well known song.

Over the years Out Cold absorbed members of many different bands. It seemed like if there was a relevant band that played hardcore punk in the Boston area that eventually members of the band would end up paying dues in Out Cold. This included members of Cops and Robbers, Last In Line, Fit For Abuse, and Anal Cunt. Members of the band also went on to form side projects like the surf band, 13 Ghosts and C.J. Ramone's Bad Chopper. While Out Cold never got much recognition in the States they were often more well received in Europe and the few people who caught their live shows knew that seeing Out Cold could be like being hit by a train and somehow surviving. They played short sets with no in between song banter and no intermissions of any kind. After they played ten to fifteen songs audience members were left trying to figure out what happened.

Hearing that Out Cold had broken up was a bit of a surprise. They had threatened to do so many times, but it seemed like every time that they talked about breaking up the band, Mark Sheehan would start talking about how he was writing new material within a few days. Out Cold had become a pillar of consistency and it seemed like they would just always be around, recording amazing records and playing shows every once in a blue moon. However with twenty years under their belt, they managed to put almost every other hardcore band in history to shame.

Asst. Editor

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