NYHC is more than a genre of music. Bear with me and let me clarify what that sentence means, because I am well aware of how cloying that sentence was. NYHC is more than a genre of music; it’s something that can tell you a lot about someone depending on their answer regarding who their favorite NYHC band is. You see, everyone knows what’s on the surface of NYHC. Agnostic Front, Madball, Cro-Mags, Gorilla Biscuits, anyone who has attended a hardcore show could continue the list by naming off some of the shirts that they saw. However, peel back the outer layer. Then peel off another one. Here lies a treasure trove of bands that never managed to make it to the limelight, let alone the radar of many extreme music enthusiasts. It might be the brevity of their discography. Maybe it’s their short-lived career before they went on to other bands. Either way, it’s an honest anomaly how these bands, I’m talking about bands like Fit of Anger, NY Hoods, and in this case, Altercation, managed to write better songs as young teenagers than many grown adults in current day hardcore. Before you write the rest of this off due to the last statement, let me give you my substantiation. Altercation’s 1987 demo: 7 songs of often imitated, never duplicated hardcore songs. Walter Schreifels truly hit the nail on the head:
“Altercation were so amazing that they scared me. They were so good, but so evil and fucked up. There was a second there when I thought the dark side just might win. Altercation were fucking awesome Brooklyn skinhead metal. It was the first time I ever heard meal techniques in hardcore, like a proper guitar squeal. Biohazard probably capitalized on their spirit, but say what you will about them, I think that Altercation was about a million times better.”
Brooklyn skinhead metal. I could leave it there and let a title like that speak for itself, but allow me to delve further. Altercation to me means unparalleled guitar work (see: the solos in “Brain Dead” and “Vigilante Song”). Altercation to me means a band that the guitarist’s girlfriend wrote some of the lyrics, but the band is so good that you can’t knock it, even in the slightest. Altercation to me simply means innovation. They were often compared to Breakdown due to their harder nature, but I find it interesting that they dropped demos the same year and one went to achieve high acclaim while the other was left for people to find and later have them wondering what took them so long to find it. Granted, Altercation only played 4 shows before they disbanded, but I could honestly say with a straight face that Altercation should have been the band with the highly coveted “87 Demo”, not Breakdown. I was lucky enough to be there to witness Altercation’s fifth show ever at the Black N Blue Bowl in New York City during May of 2013. To prevent me from going on a long, enraged tangent that would require a post of it’s own, let me just say that their response was painfully underwhelming. As soon as the announcement was posted and the rumors were true that Altercation was actually playing, there was a brief surge in the interest in the Altercation demo, only to be followed by being able to count the number of people moshing to them on my fingers. Is anyone actually surprised though? Either way, they sounded tight, heavy, and overall just perfect. They mentioned that they might be recording new music (which part of me hopes isn’t true) and they would be playing more shows (which hasn’t happened yet). We’ll see what is in the future (if there is a future at all) for one of NYHC’s greatest hidden treasures. In the meantime, have a spiritual moment with these tracks. I’m usually not one to care about live/rehearsal tracks, but they’re all so good. “Getting Away With Murder” is a song that I use my two 11:11 wishes daily to wish that was the 8th song on the demo.
- Jay Chary