Friday, October 17, 2014


Connecticut hardcore has a chip on its shoulder. CTHC has a middle child syndrome the likes of which is without precedent. It is a state that lies in the shadow of New York & Boston. It is a state that in its own right has a proud hardcore tradition giving us amazing straight edge bands like Wide Awake, Follow Through, and Youth of Today (from Danbury). Connecticut gave us bands like The Pist, Dead Wrong, Fear Tomorrow, 100 Demons, and Death Threat. Norwalk, Connecticut was home to one of the most legendary hardcore venues in the northeast with the Anthrax. Kids in Connecticut are a special breed. They are self-aware and understand that being so close to Boston & New York has forced them to step up in their understanding of the subculture and their conduct. To this end, kids in Connecticut are wired to be a little crazy. Today some of the finest personalities in both Boston & New York actually hail from Connecticut originally.

The 1990s were a weird time for hardcore. It was like every hardcore kid had just heard The Smiths & read Rachel Carson's Silent Spring. Everybody was political. Everybody was preachy. Everybody incorporated some kind of weird guitar work that they thought sounded metallic, but really it was just a 19 year old kid who was fruitlessly trying to play beyond his ability and all we got were screeching hooks into effects-laden breakdowns. When you look back at the 1990s for hardcore in the USA, you will see a pretty interesting picture of what was going on. You had NYHC enter its second-generation with bands that were more centered on crew elements (with most of the first generation trying to do post-hardcore bands at that point), Boston do the same thing with their respective crew, Cleveland do what it was doing with Dark Empire & Non-Commercial, California was all over the place, Florida was actually relevant, Texas was in somewhat of a dormant period, and so on. The long and the short of it is that hardcore had a bit of an identity crisis. The genre was entering its second decade and the kids were growing up and doing different things.

A lot of people write off the 1990s as the "metalcore" era of hardcore and there is certainly a lot that would prove that argument. The problem was that a lot of the people doing it lacked a grasp for metal. You didn't hear metal in their music, instead you heard some hardcore kids playing what they thought was metallic. Integrity and Ringworm (and their related bands) truly got it. That era of Cleveland captured metalcore in a way that no one will ever get. Guess who took hold of what Cleveland was doing and then spent years molding themselves into that image? Connecticut. Cleveland already had a reputation for being the sketchiest scenes. For a bunch of kids with chips on their shoulders, seated in between one of the most violent stretches of hardcore scenes in the country, to absorb what Cleveland was doing was a recipe for something special. What we got was Hatebreed.

Founded in 1995 in the southern part of Connecticut (New Haven - Bridgeport to be exact), Hatebreed was started the inimitable Jamey Jasta on vocals, as well as Chris Beattie on bass, Lou "Boulder" Richards (RIP) on guitar and others. Hatebreed is an important band for a variety of reasons:
1.) They became the flag-bearer for Connecticut hardcore. They were the generals of an army of kids that were ready to fight and, more distressingly, went looking for the fights. What makes a Connecticut hardcore kid's will to fight different than say someone from Boston or New York is that it almost seemed like CTHC kids wanted to fight other hardcore kids more than normies. They had something to prove to other hardcore kids. That's the story of CTHC.
2.) They took what Integrity was doing to the next level. Satisfaction Is The Death of Desire is a perfect album. It is a transcendental record. The album is a perfect hardcore album and an accessible metal album which brings me to...
3.) Hatebreed brought in an entire generation of kids to the fold. No band in the last 20 years has done more to advance the ranks of hardcore than Hatebreed. Between their name (in 1997, if you were 13 years old, you better believe a band's name was a deciding factor on blindly buying their album), imposing song titles and lyrical themes, and punishing guitar riffs, the band was able to bring in thousands of kids from the metal side of music. Hatebreed was my first hardcore band. I made all of my friends in the Dallas hardcore scene at a Hatebreed show. To this day, young kids still make the conversion to hardcore through Hatebreed. This is no easy feat. Hatebreed's influence will be felt forever for this reason.

Included is Satisfaction Is The Death of Desire & Under The Knife

1 comment:

  1. This write up is easily one of my favorite posts on the internet about Hatebreed. A decade and a half ago I was 12 years old and a burgeoning little fucking punker who was obsessed with his older brothers Slayer and nu metal CDs. My Uncle's were 90s hardcore guys that gave me copies of The Age of Quarrel and Walk Among Us, to the unending ire of my parents. I had a cool upbringing as far as an introduction to music went living in the industrial wasteland of Northwest Indiana's Lake Michigan south shore, and I like to remember it when I deal with people my own age who remember that era of early internet and looking at CD, and even cassette, covers as being the primary fuel of discovering cool music. But nothing will ever touch the moment I heard Hatebreed. It was 2002 and I had heard Satisfaction somewhat, I definitely remember it's blue lyric booklet lying around in my shared bedroom, but then my brother came home with a bunch of CDs from a show he went to and among them was a 2 song sampler of Perseverance (the others included poison the well, 7 angels 7 plagues, and refused) that just fucking leveled my pubescent ass. It was no longer just drawing Slayer and dead Kennedys on all my school worksheets, it was memorizing the lyrics to I Will Be Heard and asking my brother what this was called because it wasn't metal and it wasn't punk. He said hardcore but they're not the assholes that bitch at us for drinking beers at the skatepark, referring to a time when we stole our Dads 6 pack of Miller Genuine Draft and listened to a mix CD which had, unbeknownst to me at the time but I immediately knew a couple years later when I first knowingly heard it, Earth Crisis's Firestorm and some guy with bleached hair came over and started threatening to fight my brother (this was a full grown man to us, though probably like 19 at most, threatening my 15 year old brother) which one of my dummy fellow 6th grade friends proceeded to truck with his skateboard and we had to run as far as possible to avoid getting our asses kicked for real. Back on topic though Hatebreed was everything I loved and needed in a band. A year later I move from my home in Indiana to rural upstate South Carolina and spend the next several years trying to find people into the same stuff as me, to varying degrees of failure, until was 17 and living outside of Knoxville Tennessee. And it was because of Hatebreed that I found those people in Tennessee. And it's because of Hatebreed that I'm almost 28 and still excited about hardcore as I was when I was 12.

    Hatebreed forever.