D.R.I. at R.S.C.

Published on November 4th, 2021


DRI aka Dirty Rotten Imbeciles hail from Houston, Texas and from the Reagan-era America whose elders viewed punk and metal as outbreaks to be curbed. It was the ’80s, and you couldn’t look strange without being labeled a devil worshipper: See Judas Priest being tried (and acquitted) in a civil trial of abetting a 1985 suicide pact with “subliminal messages” supposedly buried in their recordings.

The unholy union of metal and punk, forged in thrash and embodied by the likes of D.R.I., was arguably a response to the rise of an activist religious right. (Florida death metal was soon to follow with Morbid Angel, Death and Obituary.) The crusaders who were turning over every rock looking for the Devil instead found disaffected youth who now had a common enemy. Employing the speed and anger of hardcore punk, and the crunching riffs of metal, DRI came to the rescue of reprobates and degenerates everywhere.

They’ve hit roadblocks since their founding in 1982 — cancer sidelined guitarist Spike Cassidy for a time in the 2000s — but they’ve always bounced back. Even without an album of new songs since 1995’s “Full Speed Ahead,” they tour often and play to energetic crowds.

That’s the thing with organic movements: The harder the man pushes to quash the rebellion, the more credence it gains. Telling those damn kids to shut up is underlining the idea that you’re fearful and easily manipulated, and therefore not to be trusted as an authority.

There are religious leaders known to obsesses in great detail over other people’s naughtiness. Meanwhile the Good Book contains zombies, demons, cannibalism and the Devil himself. What’s more metal than that?! It might not be wrong to thank modern Christianity for helping to birth a genre. DRI and their Stygian peers arose out of a Satanic panic, a rebellious anti-cult of butt-heads calling out what they saw as evangelical buffoonery. And thank the Dark One, because the world is so much more fun with big dumb riffs, cold beer, denim vests and headbanging.

D.R.I., with Intent, Killed by Florida and StraightJacket, play 8pm Friday December 17 at Respectable Street in West Palm Beach. 18 and over. sub-culture.org/respectable-street/ ~ Tim Moffatt