Punk rock wasn’t always the domain of photogenic young things given to emotionalism. When “hardcore” was the adjective commonly used to modify “punk” in the 1980s, primal musical aggression and tempos verering toward the supersonic demanded equally forceful lyrical content delivered with commensurate conviction.
Entering the hardcore fray in mid-decade were The Lead. Nearly all of the co-ed Florida trio’s studio output is now collected in a compilation called Hardcore For Jesus. The four years of artistic evoltion it evidences is as revelatory as its evangelistic/testimonial fervor.
From their debut four-song 7-inch EP in ’85, The Lead distinguished itself, but not only by their Christianity. Having dual lead vocalist-songwriters in guitarist Julio Rey and bassist Nina Llopis set them apart, as did a vanguely English attack on such numbers as ‘It’s Thru You’ and anti-abortion ‘Better Off.’
Drummer Robbie Christie began contributing verses and vocals with the act’s longest release, ’86’s cassette-only Return Fire. A virtuosic tightness began to develop amid the lo-fi cacaphony. ‘Lead Us To Salvation’ evinced a power-boogie spawl, ‘Emergency’ and ‘The Law Of Love’ messed with club beats before the latter skidded into a hyper-frenzied 180 with ‘Throwaway.’ Llopis begins to sound all the more feminine on numbers such as ‘Take Him Home,’ and Rey maims blues influence on ‘No Religion.’