Louisville’s second wave of punk bands, the ones begun by defiant high school kids rather than defiant college kids, exploded in the mid-1980s, and the Abromavage brothers were essential to its core values.
Mark and Chris Abromavage came out of the city’s deep South End armed to the teeth. Guitarist Mark brought an endless stream of heavy riffs, the kind that caused teenaged blood to boil, and bassist Chris locked in right beside him.
As members of Malignant Growth and Fading Out, they helped to define that era of Louisville music and then went their separate ways — Mark did a memorable stint in Kinghorse — not playing together for nearly 25 years.
The Decline Effect has rectified that egregious situation, and nothing on their end has changed. They can still make the heart race.
The Decline Effect celebrates an unlikely milestone Saturday at The New Vintage with the release of an album, “The Decline Effect.” The band wasn’t begun with such specific goals. It was begun with almost no goals other than to enjoy writing music.
Then “Dirty” Dave Johnson happened. Johnson, the unpredictable singer and guitarist of Louisville’s The Glasspack, was going through hard times. His band was on hiatus. He was broke, and occasionally homeless.
But he was also working toward getting into the University of Louisville’s Louis D. Brandeis School of Law, which he did. And he wanted to be in a band.
The Abromavages had been jamming casually with Jae Brown, a drummer of impressive power and technique, but after a couple of years they decided to add a singer.
“We were looking for a singer that wanted to do something but not necessarily tour, maybe not record, somebody with no ambition who would just keep it at a nice fun level,” Mark Abromavage said. “We got a little bit more out of it than we thought we would.”
“The Decline Effect” is a punishing record, and that’s a compliment. The riffage is thick, compelling and a perfect blend of Mark Abromavage’s influences, which range from Black Sabbath to Metallica to a host of punk bands.
It’s also a showcase for Johnson’s new vision. His struggles gave him a perspective of American society in which the few in power control everything. He became drawn to the writings of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, and the lyrics he was writing changed dramatically.
“I wanted to be in this band and be a lawyer, and it all kind of ties together because I want to help the common folks and the poor and the animals, artists and musicians,” Johnson said. “All the underdogs in society.
“That’s where the Decline Effect record comes from. It’s kind of a socialist critical view of America right now, and you can see where that would be a lot different from The Glasspack, right? Because in The Glasspack I was screaming about whiskey.”
The combination of lyrics and music gives “The Decline Effect” a classic feel. This is metallicized punk with a political agenda, which means it harkens back to the Abromavages’ roots
“All I’ve ever known is to write hard music, although there are times when I expand a little bit, a little softer music,” Mark Abromavage said. “But my heart always goes with the harder-edged music. You revert to what you know.”
The album will be released on 28:48 Records, a new startup by longtime punk fan Tom Haile, and it features a cover drawn by Nate Van Dyke and Jay Leisten. A classic punk record on a small label? It may as well be 1985.
“It still blows me away that somebody has that much faith in my music,” Mark Abromavage said of Haile’s efforts. “Of course, it’s always for money to some degree, but having those guys know of the history of me and my brother, I think they do it just to be a part of that.
“Me and my brother haven’t played music together in 20 years or so, and this is like bringing the old school people back into the scene to some degree.”
Contact Jeffrey Lee Puckett at (502) 582-4160 or email@example.com.