Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Raw Deal

The greatest era / locale combo in hardcore history is New York circa 1982-1994. This is not up for debate. It is a fact. Every band in this era is important / critical. What's even crazier is that the bulk of the most acclaimed output in this era come, not from albums, but from demos. Even when the albums are considered the greatest (Age of Quarrel), people still refer to the demos as better (Before The Quarrel). If any scene embodied the spirit of the phrase "the demo was better", it was NYHC 82-94. The list of immortal demos is literally endless. Altercation, Show of Force, Dmize, Merauder, Leeway, The Psychos, Skinhead Youth, Breakdown, Trip 6, Life's Blood, Uppercut, Outburst, and so forth. In recent years, there has been a lively debate within the subculture about the best NYHC demo ever. Most people will say Breakdown 87 which is a good answer. It just isn't the right one. The right answer is Raw Deal 88 / 89. Both demos are so good that you can't pick one. They're tied for first. Simple as that.

For the uninitiated, Raw Deal is what would eventually become Killing Time. The band was started, ironically enough, by three members of Breakdown (who had only released the 87 demo a year earlier): Carl Porcaro, Rich McLoughlin and Anthony Drago. For vocals, the band enlisted Anthony Comunale (of Token Entry). On guitar, the band brought in Mike "Hellfire" Sentkiewitz (of Sick Of It All). The band made a name for themselves as one of the leaders in the emerging second generation of NYHC.

While the first generation's heroes were on their way out toward crossover metal and post-hardcore, the likes of Raw Deal, Breakdown, Dmize, Madball had begun to dig their heels in to take over the scene. By now, NYHC wasn't developing and it wasn't searching for its identity. It was a group of kids in the LES / BK / Queens who had spent the better part of a decade fighting a war against everyone. The "tough guy" motif that often gets laughed out of the room these days wasn't a motif for these bands. It was life. By the late 1980s, CBGBs had banned hardcore shows for the violence that would regularly happen during them. NYHC anecdotes would often tell stories about its members beating someone nearly to death or a fight gone awry and someone getting stabbed. All of these stories were often told with the storyteller laughing about how funny it all was. When Raw Deal sings "Only The Strong Survive" or Madball sings "Down By Law", you knew that it wasn't an image, it was just who they were.

The Raw Deal demos are the product of living in the first generation of New York hardcore. They survived long enough and wrote the acoustic philosophy of NYHC. What would be on the Raw Deal demos became the bedrock principles of NYHC going forward. Songs like "Brightside", "Only The Strong Survive" and "Telltale" told you all you needed to know about getting by. Musically, the band had style. It wasn't the knockdown, drag out stuff you'd see from Dmize and Breakdown. It had more groove and bounce to it. You could just as easily dance to Raw Deal as you could fight to it. The Raw Deal demos are the best NYHC demos because its authors were warriors who survived the first generation long enough to tell the next generation what they needed to know about life in NYHC. Much like Homer wrote the Iliad to tell the story about the Trojan War, Raw Deal was there to write the story of NYHC circa 82-88.

Included are both 88 & 89 demos.

1 comment:

  1. Yes! The 89 demo is often overlooked! Great write up