In on the Kill Taker

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
In on the Kill Taker
Fugazi - In on the Kill Taker cover.jpg
Studio album by
ReleasedJune 30, 1993
RecordedNovember–December 1992
StudioInner Ear Studios, Arlington, Virginia
Fugazi chronology
Steady Diet of Nothing
In on the Kill Taker
Red Medicine

In on the Kill Taker is the third full-length studio album by the American post-hardcore band Fugazi. It was released on June 30, 1993 through Dischord Records and was recorded at Inner Ear Studios and produced by Ted Niceley and Don Zientara. In on the Kill Taker captured the aggressiveness of the band's earlier releases while displaying a more diverse range of influences.

Due in part to the popularity of alternative rock in the early 1990s, In on the Kill Taker became the group's first album to debut on the Billboard charts and subsequently became the band's breakthrough album.[2]


The band had originally recorded songs in Chicago with producer Steve Albini at Chicago Recording Company studios, with the intention of releasing a two or three song EP. However, the group ended up recording a whole album's worth of material, but were ultimately unhappy with the result and re-recorded the entire album in Washington D.C. at Inner Ear Studios with Don Zientara and Ted Niceley handling production duties. The original recordings from the Chicago sessions have since been bootlegged onto filesharing networks.[3]

Despite the sessions in Chicago not entirely working out, it allowed the band to be well-prepared for what would become the album's proper recording sessions. According to singer/guitarist Guy Picciotto, “I think we really worked much harder on getting the songs together. We did a lot more pre-session demos, not just with Albini, but also using an 8-track reel-to-reel that we had bought to record our practices. It really changed the way we were able to work out the songs. It also helped us school ourselves a bit on how to engineer a basic recording.”[4]

Music and lyrics[edit]

The material on In on the Kill Taker retained the band's aggressive and rhythmic style, but displayed more diversity as well. Fugazi downplayed any conscious efforts to make Kill Taker more experimental or diverse. According to Picciotto “I don’t really think of any of the records as being any more experimental than any of the others, because to us they were all experiments,” he said. “We were just trying to figure stuff out and push ourselves further each time. So to my ear every record sounds like a step forward, or sideways, or at least somewhere else from the one before it.”[4]

The album's lyrics frequently reference films, in particular the song "Cassavetes" which is a tribute to actor/filmmaker John Cassavetes, as well as a critique of Hollywood culture.[5] The song "Walken's Syndrome" references Woody Allen's film Annie Hall, where Christopher Walken's character feels an urge to crash into oncoming traffic at night.[6]

Release and reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic4/5 stars[6]
Los Angeles Times3/4 stars[7]
Q2/5 stars[9]
Rolling Stone4/5 stars[10]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide4/5 stars[11]

The record garnered rave reviews from many publications including Spin, TIME magazine and Rolling Stone, with Rolling Stone writer Matt Diehl claiming that Fugazi is "the only band that matters."[2] AllMusic critic Andy Kellman wrote: "It's probably Fugazi's least digestible record from front to back, but each track has its own attractive qualities, even if not immediately perceptible."[6] Jonathan Gold of Los Angeles Times thought that on the album, "Fugazi works in more or less the same meta-pop ballpark as Sonic Youth," and further stated: "Fugazi hasn't a whimsical bone in its collective body, and the lyrics dance around the gloomiest topics in oblique college-poetry metaphor."[7]


Acclaimed Music finds the album to be the 21st and 250th most acclaimed album of 1993 and of the 90s respectively.[12]

Publication Country Accolade Rank
LAS Magazine US 90 Albums of the 90s 1[12]
Pitchfork US Top 100 Favorite Records of the 1990s (original) 24[13]
Magnet US 10th Anniversary Issue, Top 60 Albums 1993-2003 35[12]
Kerrang! UK 100 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die 81[14]
Terrorizer UK 100 Most Important Albums Of The Nineties -[15]
Rockdelux Spain 300 Best Albums from 1984-2014 191[16]


Filmmaker Jem Cohen, a long-time friend and collaborator of the band, was responsible for some of the album's art design and packaging. Found pieces of text and photographs were used to make up the overall layout. The cover image, showing a burned-out gold Polaroid of the Washington Monument, was found by Cohen in the street. The inner sleeve was a piece that Jeremy Blake,[17] a friend of the band, found tacked to a light post in Chicago. The text on the cover side margin and back cover were also found on the ground in New York City by Cohen and contained the phrase " I could have tried to put a stop to the hater, the adversary workers, iniquity evildoers. This is big because people in high places are in on the kill taker".[4]


By the time the In on the Kill Taker tour was underway, the group began to sell-out large auditoriums and arenas, as well as receive more lucrative major label offers. During the band's sold-out 3-night stint at New York City's Roseland Ballroom in September 1993, music mogul and Atlantic Records president Ahmet Ertegün met with the band backstage in an attempt to sign them. Ertegün offered the band "anything you want," their own subsidiary label and more than $10 million just to sign with Atlantic. Fugazi declined the offer.[18] The organizers of Lollapalooza also attempted to recruit the band for a headlining slot on its 1993 tour, which the band considered but ultimately turned down.[19]

Influence, covers and tributes[edit]

"Public Witness Program" has been covered by Screw 32.[20] It is also the name of a band from Norway.[21] The band Cassavetes took its name from the song of the same name on this album[22], as did the band Great Cop.[23] Plunderphonics musician Chris Lawhorn used 11 tracks from this album for his album Fugazi Edits.[24][25] Greg Saunier and André de Ridder along with Stargaze "re-composed" the album in its entirety under the title Instruments, which was released on Record Store Day, 2019.[26][27]

Track listing[edit]

All songs by Guy Picciotto, Ian MacKaye, Joe Lally, and Brendan Canty.

No.TitleLead vocalsLength
1."Facet Squared"MacKaye2:42
2."Public Witness Program"Picciotto2:04
3."Returning the Screw"MacKaye3:13
4."Smallpox Champion"Picciotto4:01
5."Rend It"Picciotto3:48
6."23 Beats Off"MacKaye6:41
7."Sweet and Low" 3:36
9."Great Cop"MacKaye1:52
10."Walken's Syndrome"Picciotto3:18
12."Last Chance for a Slow Dance"Picciotto4:38





Year Chart Position
1993 The Billboard 200 153[28]


  1. ^ Pell, Nicholas (July 3, 2012). "Top Five Best Post-Hardcore Records". LA Weekly. Retrieved February 4, 2017.
  2. ^ a b Perlah, Jeff. "The Independent". Guitar World. March 2002.
  3. ^ Brace, Eric. "Nightwatch". The Washington Post. August 20th, 1999. Retrieved on January 27, 2009.
  4. ^ a b c Gentry, Brendan. "Secret History: Fugazi's In on the Kill Taker". Archived from the original on 2016-08-21. Retrieved 2017-09-27.
  5. ^ Gross 2018, p. 111
  6. ^ a b c Kellman, Andy. "In on the Kill Taker – Fugazi". AllMusic. Retrieved March 17, 2010.
  7. ^ a b Gold, Jonathan (July 25, 1993). "PC Punkers Take Opposite Tacks". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved September 9, 2016.
  8. ^ Diamond, Jason (April 30, 2017). "Fugazi: In on the Kill Taker". Pitchfork. Retrieved March 17, 2010.
  9. ^ "Fugazi: In on the Kill Taker". Q (83): 92. August 1993.
  10. ^ Diehl, Matt (September 30, 1993). "In on the Kill Taker". Rolling Stone. Retrieved September 9, 2016.
  11. ^ Wolk 2004, pp. 315–16.
  12. ^ a b c "Acclaimed Music". Retrieved 2019-02-28.
  13. ^ "Pitchfork's Top 100 Albums of the 1990s [1999] | Book awards | LibraryThing". Retrieved 2019-02-28.
  14. ^ "! Page 2..." Retrieved 2019-02-28.
  15. ^ " Magazine..." Retrieved 2019-02-28.
  16. ^ "Música en la mochila » Blog Archive » Mejores discos durante los 30 años de Rockdelux (1984-2014)". Retrieved 2019-02-28.
  17. ^ Gross 2018, p. 79
  18. ^ Freidman 2007, p. 52
  19. ^ Norman 1993
  20. ^ "Various Artists: Everybody Wants Somewhere: A Tribute To Fugazi". Retrieved 2019-03-08.
  21. ^ "Demo 2014, by Public Witness Program". Public Witness Program. Retrieved 2019-03-08.
  22. ^ "The spirit of Fugazi is alive in Philly's Cassavetes and Split Red". The Key. 2014-08-23. Retrieved 2019-03-08.
  23. ^ "The Dismemberment Plan / Great Cop, Stereo, 28 November | Gig Review | The Skinny". Retrieved 2019-03-08.
  24. ^ Raymer, Miles. "12 O'Clock Track: Chris Lawhorn, "Floating Boy / Rend It / Downed City / Argument"". Chicago Reader. Retrieved 2019-03-08.
  25. ^ "Chris Lawhorn - Fugazi Edits". Discogs. Retrieved 2019-03-08.
  26. ^ RSD '19 Special Release: Stargaze & Greg Saunier - Instruments [A Track By Track Re-Composition of Fugazi's In On The Killtaker], retrieved 2019-03-08
  27. ^ "Stargaze - Instruments [A Track By Track Re-Composition of Fugazi's 'In On The Killtaker']". Rough Trade. Retrieved 2019-03-08.
  28. ^ "In on the Kill Taker - Fugazi". Billboard. Retrieved 12 May 2011.