Straight edge has been a facet in hardcore for over three decades. During that time there has been a fair share of bands that have been empowering, embarrassing, and everything in between. From the 80’s youth crew movement, to 90’s hardline, to the late 90’s and early 2000’s youth crew rival, followed by a period of slight stagnation throughout the mid/late 2000’s to another brief youth crew revival around 2010-2011, it doesn’t look like straight edge is going anywhere no matter how many times it fluctuates between being in-season and outdated. I hate talking about straight edge more than most things due to the staggering potential it has to sound contrived and spurious, but the way I see it, one’s faith in this ideology is really tested as you see the travesties people do to diminish the reputation of a movement that you so strongly identify with.
Do you continue to risk your own reputation to associate yourself with something you see as positive no matter how badly other tarnish the name? The terrible clothing brands, the terrible bands, the terrible (face) tattoos, Insted, the list could go on and on. I, myself, am straight edge and am fully aware of these things. If this rubbed you the wrong way, maybe you should take a moment of brief reflection to see if you are contributing to the aforementioned list. Either way, everyone has their reasons; Bringin’ It Down is mine.
Let me explain the purpose of this tangent. In 2014, it really takes something special to perpetuate the flame that was sparked the first time you listened to Break Down The Walls. With so many bands saying the same thing, so many songs sounding the same, so many swing and misses at replicating the sounds of Revelation and Wishingwell Records, where do we find salvation in all of this? I don’t often speak in extremes, but allow me to do so to answer this question. No Tolerance is the best straight edge hardcore punk band since Judge. No Tolerance is that glimmer of light in an indecipherably dark place. No gimmicks. That is No Tolerance summed up in two words. Sure, one might argue that their gimmick is their all-star lineup. My response is this: shut your eyes, open your ears, and listen. If you don’t hear it then you might fall into one of two groups: you might be deaf or you simply might not get it. While everyone was doing Youth of Today, No Tolerance was doing Brotherhood and Confront. While everyone was talking about unity, they were ousting Boston’s sell-outs. I’m not even going to talk about the band’s line-up because if you know where they’re from, you could probably take a good guess on who’s in the band. The fact of the matter is that this a band that doesn’t need any puffery of the music by means of “members of” or “they’re on _______ records”. It doesn’t mean anything.
There are bad bands on good labels and there are bad bands made of members of good bands, but in this instance none of that applies. When you look back on straight edge’s cultural track record, No Tolerance is that shining gem that takes your eyes off of the many blemishes that it sits in between of. The demo and 7” are equally flawless. In fact, there’s only two things about this band that I wish were different: more music and more shows.
Other than that, don’t fix it if it isn’t broken.
- Jay Chary