Punk rock certainly plays a role in the history of math rock, and without those crazed people who decided to change things up and do it their way, we wouldn’t have half of the experimental shit that’s been played on airwaves and inside venues underground.

As genres formed and grew into sub-genres or genres of their own, you can easily see how they rubbed off on each other.

For now, let’s talk about some of the ground-breaking punk rock albums throughout the years with moments that give math rock a run for its money.

My War by Black Flag


Damaged, the first album by Black Flag, was revolutionary, infecting the world like a bite from a
mindless zombie. With a great first album, comes great anticipation. And with their second album, My War, released in 1984, Greg Ginn and the bunch decided to switch it up, offering a slower LP with some killer drum work by Bill Stevenson. His cross-rhythm technique on the drums is an early sign of what’s to come, as far as math rock is concerned. For a taste, make sure to give “Swinging Man,” “Three Nights,” or “Scream” a go. Overall, the album should be recognized as a fantastic piece of punk with math rock roots that should be accepted and recognized by any fan.

Atomizer by Big Black


And then enters Steve Albini. For those who don’t know, Albini is a well-known music
producer and engineer who has worked with math rock legends like Don Caballero, buy before that, he was a member of the band Big Black, noise-makers with a sound that to this day hasn’t
been replicated, their debut Atomizer is a powerhouse of punk gloriousness with plenty of math-
rock moments that hit hard. At the time of its release (1986), the Indie Rock explosion is
occurring, and math rock is still in its infancy. Without albums like the aforementioned My War or
the work of Big Black, as seen with Atomizer, there would be no trail for future generations to
explore and form that signature sound we’ve all come to respect.

Wrong by Nomeansno


Released through Jello Biafra’s label Alternative Technicals, Wrong is the 4th album by
Nomeansno and possibly their best. Kicking off with the mind-altering “It’s Catching Up” with its
clear changes in tempo and progression that continue on to the end of the album, this is one of
those killer albums that leaves you guessing with each newly formed beat, a punch to any math
rock fan eager for a taste of punk.

Repeater + 3 by Fugazi


While Cap’n Jazz, a math rock pioneer in their own right, is doing their thing in Chicago, Fugazi is also releasing their debut album Repeater + 3 in 1991. Fugazi has become the go-to when
referring to indie alternative rock with punk rock leadership as seen in Ian MacKaye, one of the
founding fathers of the hardcore movement. While the majority of their well-known tunes are
remembered for their raw sound, hard-hitting drums, and thought-provoking lyrics, play the song
“Joe #1” from their debut and don’t tell me don’t hear math rock with a punk rock edge.

Soda Pop * Rip Off by Slant 6


The trio known as Slant 6 is one of those all-female bands who never received the recognition
they deserved. Their album Soda Pop * Rip Off, which debuted in 1994, holds plenty of songs,
like “Nights X 9” with its own math theme, of stellar guitar play that is unpredictable and music to
your ears if you consider yourself a fan of punk or math rock.

Yank Crime by Drive Like Jehu


Often classified as emo, hardcore, and punk, Drive Like Jehu released the album Yank Crime in
1994, and our ears have never been the same since. Connecting silence with haunting guitar
play, this stop, start masterpiece of punk rock is as technical as technical can get.

Relationship of Command by At the Drive-In


One can say, At the Drive-In has seen several musical changes throughout its tenure. However,
at the height of their punk rock sound, they dropped Relationship of Command in 2000,
solidifying them as a juggernaut in the genre. From the dissonance heard within opening track,
“Arcarsenal” to the time changes in “Cosmonaut,” math rock can easily be found in this album
considered one of the best for punk rock in the early 2000s.

(Self-Titled) by Daikaiju


Daikaiju is a rare breed, a kaiju-themed surf punk band based out of Houston, TX who have
been dishing out nasty tunes since 1999. Their self-titled album released in 2005, or even their 2001 EP Monster Surf, will hands down compete with any math rock album you throw in the ring. And my personal favorite from the album has to be “Attack of the Crab Women.” Check it out.

Bon Voyage by Sport


To show the range of punk and its math rock roots, we head across the pond for Sport’s Bon
, released in 2014. This indie punk rock band from Lyon, France mixed and matched
raw vocals with beautiful guitar play and cross-rhythm technique on this 11-song LP. Make sure
to turn up “Reggie Lewis,” “Florence Griffith-Joyner,” and “Charles Lindbergh” to see for

Congregation by Witch Fever


Witch Fever is thrown into the ring for showing the progression of music as punk and math
rock’s histories continue to unfold. Creators of one of the finest albums in 2022, Witch Fever’s
Congregation is a prime example of the subgenre of doom punk. With raw, punk sounds and
math rock-like irregular demonic breakdowns that send chills down your spine, it’s an album that
solidified them as a band not to be ignored, both from a lyrical standpoint and a musical one.

[Editor’s Note: We hope you enjoyed this little experiment, because there is indeed much more to come – keep your eyes peeled for more from Patrick and the correlations between math rock and punk soon, and check out more of his work at punkrock.blog here if you haven’t already. Cheers and thanks for your patience as we put things together behind the scenes!]