Awesome Totally Awesome Coral Fang

The Album That Was Always There: The Distillers’ Classic The Coral Fang Turns 15

October 2018 marked 15 years since the Distillers’ “The Coral Fang” debuted. The album was expected to be the band’s final album, but, along with many other things that changed within the last 15 years, that expectation did too as the Distillers are back, ready to release a new album.

However, for many Distillers fans, “The Coral Fang” will always maintain its legendary status, not just because for 15 years it was believed to be their concluding album, but also because of the tremendous amount of intensity within the songs.

Much of power driving the music was brought about by the band’s internal struggles including the tumultuous state of Brody Dalle’s life. Dalle was ending her difficult three-year-long marriage to Tim Armstrong, whom she had been married to since she was 18. She was picking up the pieces of her troublesome teenage years, while also battling a fierce drug addiction.

The album has verses and phrases that evoke emotions relatable for anyone who has ever felt pissed, betrayed, shattered, lost, in love or ready to say, “Fuck love.”

Even those who don’t know the story of Dalle’s life or haven’t lived anything close to it, but have felt and fed the fuck up, can find solace within these tunes, making this album an instant classic.

For this Distillers’ fan, the album works like a time machine, blasting me to the past each time I put it on. Not in the way that I reminisce and think, “This one time at band camp…” but more in the way that it makes the tiny hairs on my arms perk up, giving me goosebumps from feeling memories coming back.

I revisit the energized feeling of being a crazy adolescent was when I personally discovered the album in 2005. I relive feelings from being a teenage punk rocker on the way to shows at the legendary Showcase theater venue blasting epic songs like “The Coral Fang” and “Dismantle Me.” I feel those younger years when my mom would yell, “What is that noise?! Turn it down NOW!” when I played “Death Sex” so loud my bedroom windows shook, and when she would ask me with disgust and disdain, “What’s wrong with her voice?” when I played “The Hunger” in her car while she drove me to my high school.

The album feels like so many moments throughout my life, from my high school days sporting sewn on punk rock patches and studs with bondage belts over top, to my later teens cruising the backroads of Southern California with the night sky above chain-smoking in my broken down Buick about to learn the hardest lessons of my life in my early 20’s. I remember and still rely on, the therapeutic value of “The Hunger.” It was an anthem for letting go of my first real heartbreak, recovering from losing friends and family to the most fucked up situations imaginable, or for just fighting depression so deep I couldn’t recognize myself or my life.

This album was always there.

Dalle and I have battled similar demons; it was conceived while she was battling hers, and I was just getting to know mine. This album entered my life at the right time, following me into my darkest places while I blasted its riffs and choruses through the hallows of my own struggles, with Dalle’s voice and lyrics playing as the soundtrack in the background.

“The Coral Fang” is more than the album that gave the band one of its most commercial and poppy hits “Beat Your Heart Out,” it’s an entire journey in itself, and it makes a great companion for misery. It recognizes your shit situation, your shit life, your shit feelings, calls you out on your fears, insecurities, and suffering and doesn’t make you feel bad about it; in fact, it empowers you, if you allow your interpretation to do so. Dalle says so herself, “At the end of the road, you will find the answer.”

This album does what all of the best punk rock albums do. It talks openly to you about how life sucks, you’re pissed at yourself and everyone, you’re hurt, your heart is broken and you don’t want to be here anymore. But that’s okay, cause you’re not the only one who feels this way, and the proof is here in these songs.

Check out ATA and Emily’s Timeline Review of the Distillers’ Reunion Show at the Hollywood Palladium here.

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