Friday, September 26, 2014


There's something to be said about Denton, Texas. It is a place I made home for a number of years while going through school. Denton bears strong ties to the hardcore punk community. It has often been cut down as the "Little Austin" or the "Dollar Store Portland." The fact about Denton is that it is a town 45 minutes northwest of Dallas where the kids made the best they could with what they had. In the process Denton has made a pretty remarkable go of things. They've fashioned themselves into one of the premier destinations for hardcore punk in Texas. Most of the bands who played Chaos In Tejas end up in Denton either before or after the fest to much more intimate settings. The bands in Denton know what they're doing. Denton, Texas has given us two of the better bands of the last few years and been linked to so many other great projects. One of the acts is The Marked Men (don't get it twisted, they started in Denton and they don't forget this fact seeing how to this day they make it a point to play Denton at least once a year). The other act is Wiccans.

Wiccans featured a motley crew of personnel. Guys who, at one point or another, participated heavily in the hardcore scene but with the passage of time found themselves in other worlds. Members of Wiccans are versed in noise, classic rock, heavy metal, hardcore, rock, and other genres. Wiccans used this to their advantage and elevated their sound. I've heard a lot of ways you could describe Wiccans but my personal description is imagine Fucked Up if Fucked Up just kept doing what they were doing on Epics In Minutes but with more 70s rock influence (a lot of Blue Oyster Cult which the guitar players swore by). Wiccans' presence live was also a sight to behold. Vocalist Adam Cahoon was a madman, all over the place, engaging the crowd, whether they cared or not. This is a trope common in hardcore, but there's something to be said for it. It isn't something someone can work at either, you're either good at it or not. By that token, one could say Adam excelled at this point. The guitar players in the band's heyday were Payton Green & Daniel Ziegler (Daniel has since left and replaced by NTXHC mainstay Shea Brooks; Andrew Savage of Parquet Courts fame also featured in the band's earliest days). Payton & Daniel are both incredible guitarists and watching perform against each other at every show was a rare sight in hardcore. Every show you would watch Payton & Daniel go at it for string supremacy. They were conscious of the other's performance, watching the other work, and made the most of their opportunities to one up the other. However it wasn't like a boxing match where the two tried to kill each other, but rather a footrace where the two simply stepped it up to be that much better. Bass player Harpal Assi would look lost as he played through their sets. Not lost like doing a bad job, but lost like he had lost himself in the course of playing. This is another trope common in hardcore but when you watched Harpal do it, you could really see he wasn't there. Right until the music stopped and he was back to business. On drums is Denton treasure Greg Rutherford. Greg has built a reputation for being in a lot of projects and excelling.

Wiccans helped to influence and shape the "NWOTHC" (New Wave of Texas Hardcore) in both North Texas & Austin. After Wiccans you saw the likes of The Sentenced, Sin Motivo, Glue, Blotter, Breakout, Recide, Iron Youth, and others. The band never stopped being a hardcore band but also never stopped compromising what they personally wanted to do. As much as there is something to be said for Denton, Texas, there is just as much that can be said for Wiccans. The band blended their influences into hardcore and made something excellent. A lot of bands try this, very few succeed. Included here is their two albums, their EP and their demo.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Intent To Injure

Boston is a hardcore town. It's in their DNA. It's a smaller town than you think. It is a variety of different personalities jammed into one area. Most cities have their home hardcore venue in their neighborhood cut off from the world of normies and outsiders. It is their territory. In New York City, you had the LES & the Bowery belong to the punks, scumbags, and junkies during its day. It is like that through much of the country. In Boston, you had The Rathskeller AKA "The Rat". The Rat was across the street from Fenway Park in Kenmore Square. Boston's home for hardcore was across the street from every drunk frat boy taking in their beloved Red Sox. Worse yet was when the Yankees would come to visit, then you had interloping New Yorkers stomping around your neighborhood. Kenmore Square was a powder keg. It was a culture clash happening on a regular basis. Boston hardcore's history through the 80s can be summed up in one word: violence. Starting with SS Decontrol & Al Barile fighting the drunks and druggies. Then you had the rise of FSU when they fought wars against the Nazi punks until they had eradicated it. This doesn't even include the countless fights that would happen outside The Rat, just cause. Boston is a fighting town.

What's bizarre about Boston hardcore is that while its traditions and history are celebrated ad nauseum their bands are often left unheralded. To your layman hardcore fan, Boston is viewed simply as a top heavy scene. You have Siege, SSD, Slapshot and the This Is Boston Not LA comp roster getting love. There are countless others who get ignored though. One such band came out in the late 80s when NYHC was seen by most fans of hardcore as the ground zero of hardcore. The band was Intent To Injure. Intent To Injure is everything you could ask for in Boston hardcore band and more. What's more, their influence is still felt today. Many members of today's best bands from Boston have cited Intent To Injure as influential. They only released three EPs before calling it quits. The band is charged with a certain kind of vitriol that is unique to Boston. Maybe that is why Intent To Injure doesn't generate more fanfare around the world today. It really is appropriate that they are named after a penalty in hockey that suggest a malicious intent and a lack of regard for other people's well-being. Great band, criminally underrated.


How many people copped a copy of the book Burning Fight cause you love 90s hardcore? I definitely did. To my chagrin, Integrity was featured for a lousy three pages. In a book about the oral history of 1990s hardcore, Integrity, a band that during the 1990s the mere mention of their name would evoke controversy and incite a reaction. This is the band that waged a personal war with Tony Brummel & Victory Records (back when the name Victory Records meant something). This is the band that started a war with those guys from Boston. This is the band that started a war with those other guys from NYC. I should qualify that much of the war-waging was perpetrated by two people: vocalist Dwid Hellion and drummer Chubby Fresh.

Integrity is the best 'metalcore' band of all time. I say metalcore in quote marks because Integrity doesn't sound like how people understand metalcore in today's terms. Integrity picked up where Sheer Terror left off. They're a hardcore band in every sense save for their aesthetic, lyrical content, and guitar work. Integrity over the years has had the privilege of seeing some of the best American guitar players in hardcore history. Starting with Aaron "A2" Melnick, Frank "3 Gun" (figure out how he got that nickname) Novinec, Chris Smith, and Mike Jochum. On bass all they ever needed was Leon "Micha" Melnick. Combined with Dwid's apocalyptic lyrics & feral vocals, Integrity had a package that very few bands of the 1990s had. The other bands that could hang with Integrity all happened to be from Cleveland too and featured members that had been in Integrity or were friends with Integrity. Bands like Ringworm, In Cold Blood, One Life Crew, and Bowel. Another band that would become close to Integrity and shared their philosophy was a little band from Bridgeport, CT called Hatebreed.

Integrity wasn't just about the music. It was danger and it was fear personified. They were a band who sought out the fights. They were a band that wanted everything on their terms in no uncertain terms. There was a point where being a die hard (excuse the pun) Integrity fan meant you had a certain appetite for violence and sketchiness. That was before the Holy Terror movement became a movement. After Holy Terror, it turned into a bunch of suburban kids who liked Charles Manson & Aleister Crowley for no real reason other than Dwid put on for them. Living in Texas and in close proximity to Houston, I came to understand a few things about Integrity. First, Houston was a city that took everything I just described about the love of violence & sketchiness espoused by Integrity and made that their scene's identity. Being close to that, I saw first hand what Integrity could condition people to become. I had a friend who was a big Integrity fan and he wanted to get an Integrity skull tattoo. Big deal, right? He gave it to himself. On his kneecap. He said it was the only real way. That's the kind of cult conditioning I'm talking about Integrity instilling.

Integrity's discography is great. Earlier I talked about how Gauze has six great albums to their name and not many hardcore bands can say that. Integrity has four important albums. One of the most frustrating discussions is "what is the best Integrity album?" I personally ride with Systems Overload. Included on this link are Those Who Fear Tomorrow, Humanity Is The Devil, Seasons In The Size Of Days, To Die For, Systems Overload (the recent Rob Orr / A2 remixed version; it sounds better), and Integrity's live album Palm Sunday which features some great banter from Dwid.

Enjoy and understand Integrity. I mean really understand Integrity. The last few years I feel like something has gotten lost about what Integrity is. Integrity isn't quasi-swazis, Chuck Manson, and obscure 70s cults. Integrity is picking a fight for no good reason, making a bad decision, and causing chaos just to see what happens.

Cold Sweat

Cold Sweat is arguably the best hardcore punk band to ever come from the Pacific Northwest.

The band's time was not long, but in the scheme of hardcore it seems that the best bands never last long. Cold Sweat came and went but the members of the band took their talents and went on to many a great project. Vocalist Shaun Dean would later feature for Austin's Repercussions & Boston's Men's Interest. Drummer Jensen Ward would go on to lead the inimitable Iron Lung as well as Walls with ex-Cold Sweat man Nick Turner. Pedigrees considered, Cold Sweat becomes an even more fascinating project. Much like the 1995 Ajax side that would win the European Cup, Cold Sweat was a group of young talents coming together and achieving at the highest level.

Cold Sweat's sound can't be simply described as "this kind of hardcore" or "utilizing this brand of punk." To try and characterize Cold Sweat like that would be a gross injustice. Cold Sweat's guitar work is drenched in feedback while still carrying itself as forceful. The drums are what you would come to expect from Jensen. Jensen is arguably one of the best drummers in the history of hardcore. If Cold Sweat doesn't make this fact clear to you, Iron Lung sure as hell will. The vocals are what stand out most. Shaun Dean's vocals for Cold Sweat sound tortured. I don't mean tortured like "I have some unspoken trauma and my demons now torture me internally." I mean tortured like "I have demons, I know them and now you will too." They're terrifying. For what it's worth if you've ever seen a Shaun Dean project live, you'd understand that statement isn't hyperbole. When the music starts, he is terrifying.

Cold Sweat is one of the best USHC bands of the last fifteen years. A lot of readers will probably say "I have no idea who Cold Sweat is." For a frame of reference, if you caught yourself at a Chaos In Tejas festival, one of the USHC bands of the day that everyone universally swore by was Cold Sweat. They're punishing. The sound is pain, negativity, hostility, acrimony harnessed on to record. Very few hardcore bands have been able to capture that. This is both of their albums Blinded & Severed Ties.


G.I.S.M. AKA Guerrilla Incendiary Sabotage Mutineer AKA God In the Schizoid Mind AKA General Imperialism Social Murder AKA Genocide Infanticide Suicide Menticide AKA Gay Individual Social Mean AKA Gnostic Idiosyncrasy Sonic Militant

The band has gone by as many any aliases as a crazed fugitive, which is what you could characterize GISM's profile as. I'd argue no band has a more fortified mythology than GISM. Their notoriety in the realm of hardcore punk reaches the heights of a GG Allin. Here's the difference: GG Allin's actions are well-documented, both on video, at his shows, even in a court of law. GISM's mythology is a bit more shrouded and has reached the levels it has largely through word of mouth. The focal point of the myths and stories are the band's singer: Sakevi.

Sakevi is more an urban myth in the subculture than a personality. A lot of this can be attributed to the fact that he's in Japan and thus disconnected from the USA. The stories about Sakevi paint a sociopath, bereft of regard for anyone. The stories will tell you they hear Sakevi is Yakuza (this is not as intense as it sounds as much of the early Japanese hardcore punk scene bear connection to that organization). They will tell you they heard Sakevi once stabbed a fan in the crowd taking pictures of him. They will tell you they heard Sakevi once shot down a police helicopter. They will tell you the time Sakevi used a flamethrower on a crowd once. They will tell you he turned a chainsaw on a crowd once. There are stories of people who bootleg GISM shirts & records receiving mysterious emails telling them to take their wares down or face grave consequences. Sakevi has evolved into a spook story. He's the Keyser Soze of hardcore music.

My personal favorite Sakevi story tells how one day he was walking down the street in Japan when he passed by a record shop that had a bootleg GISM shirt on display in the window. Sakevi calmly walks into the store, doesn't say a word, grabs the cash register and throws it out the window. The shocked store clerk looks on terrified as Sakevi approaches him and tells him he will return tomorrow and if he sees that the GISM shirts have not been removed, he will kill the clerk.

Here's the reality about GISM. They are one of Japan's first hardcore bands. They played a very abrasive, noisy style of hardcore on their 1984 debut album Detestation. This album has held its own influence on a great deal of hardcore punk globally as time has gone on. GISM was not simply blessed with a mythical frontman, but an incredible guitar player in Randy Uchida (RIP). GISM's 1987 album M.A.N. (Military Affairs Neurotic) was the band trying their hand at crossover with Randy's guitar work taking the band to another level. Here's the secret to succeeding at crossover music: half of it is aesthetic, half of it is guitar work. GISM came into MAN with an unrivaled aesthetic, so Randy's ability to produce a great performance was merely a foregone conclusion. I personally think when crossover albums get discussed M.A.N. is overlooked almost universally. When you listen to it, you can't describe it as much else, but it isn't a "GISM crossover album", it is just a legitimately good crossover album. GISM's final album SoniCRIME Therapy is a return to the noisy brand of hardcore they'd made their bones with on Detestation. This is not to say the band hadn't grown by then. SoniCRIME Therapy was released in 2002. By then GISM's influence and notoriety was global. Sakevi was an accomplished artist in his own right and the album bears a great deal of experimenting on it. This link features all three albums.

The discussion of GISM is a discussion of two bands. The first is the myth. Most kids who will talk to you about what they've heard about Sakevi have likely never listened to GISM before. GISM is just plain cool to talk about. Few bands (not just in the subculture, I mean period) have the kind of mythology Sakevi does, so it is understandable. The second is the band. GISM is a great band. GISM is a transcendental band. Their records are worth listening to, their records are worth drawing influence from. They are special for more than some stories you read somewhere. If you don't know this fact, do yourself a favor and fix it.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014


Indulge me for a moment and I will explain this in anatomical terms: Poison Idea is the blood that flows through the Burning Spirits genre; Gauze is the flesh and bone; Death Side is the skin and face.

Gauze is simply put a world away. They exist, we know they exist, we know they're great but they will forever be far away. They won't play the USA, ever. If you believe what you hear, the reason why not would astound most American kids: they don't care. The guys in Gauze are 100% happy doing their thing in Japan, when they gig they gig, when they record they record. They are dismissive to the perpetual growth of their following here in the USA. It is admirable. It is a damn shame, but it is admirable nonetheless.

Gauze is one of the best (if not THE) to ever play hardcore punk in Japan. They have six albums, all amazing. Very few hardcore punk bands can boast six good albums (and I don't just mean current or in Japan... I mean ever). The band still plays to this day in Japan, so if you're ever out there and you can see them, you need to do so. Their sound is everything you would expect to hear in a Burning Spirits band. Fast, chaotic, and skilled. Fans of Gauze swear by the band, because it isn't just what it is, but also what would be. It isn't enough to understand what something is, it is important to understand where it's been and where it's going. One knock on Burning Spirits / Japanese bands is that they don't survive for a terribly long time. Obviously there are exceptions to that statement, but no band can boast continuing on in the manner Gauze has since 1981. Gauze is a gem in a diamond mine, but make no mistake that their luster has always, and will always, shine brightest. Included is all of their albums, their EP, and comp tracks.

Death Side

There are two hardcore genres that are at the apex of the game. The first is NYHC which this blog has already discussed at length. The second is Burning Spirits from Japan. Burning Spirits is a brand of hardcore that came to life in mid 80s Japan. It can be characterized by the Poison Idea influence, virtuoso guitar work, and wildly frenetic drum patterns. If you were to ask me to make a top 10 of hardcore guitarists ever. At least half would be from Japan. That isn't a joke. A Burning Spirits guitarist is meticulous in their sound and their work. The drum work in Burning Spirits is terrifying. A Burning Spirits drummer is actually attacking his kit during a performance. To the point where they cast aside their own personal well-being. For example, during Framtid's second performance at Chaos In Tejas 2013 the drummer played at such a pace and with such ferocity that he collapsed and had to roll off the drum riser backstage where he had to be tended to in order to fucking revive him. The guy took a minute and got back out there to finish the set. It was simultaneously the most astounding and disturbing thing I'd ever seen at a hardcore show. Japanese culture has a concept called "fighting spirit", it is utilized frequently in puroresu (Japanese professional wrestling), where a person can take a gross amount of punishment and all it does is embolden them to go harder than before. Fighting spirit is real, I saw it that night watching Framtid. The point to all of this is that Burning Spirits is uniquely Japanese. Fighting spirit, that kind of surgical attention to detail, that high-speed pace. It all comes from growing up in Japan. In recent years it has become the source of great attention here in the USA and people are taking their cues from their heroes to the East (with good reason).

If Poison Idea is the Bad Brains of Burning Spirits and Gauze is the Agnostic Front, Death Side is the Warzone. Death Side is legendary. Everything about them. Their line up is a who's who of Burning Spirits legends. There might have been hardcore punk in Japan before Death Side, but it was Burning Spirits by the time they were finished. Vocals by Ishiya (of Forward, Smash Detox), Kenji Mukai (of Judgement, Smash Detox), You (of Forward), and the immortal Chelsea (RIP) (of Paintbox, Poison Arts, The Execute). Death Side is everything I just previously described. Fighting spirit. Guitars out of your wildest dreams. A drummer at war with his kit. Lyrics with aspects of fatalism. Death Side is the father of the modern Burning Spirits scene. Don't believe me? There is an even a family tree showing Death Side's impact to the scene.

This is their two albums, all of their EPs, their split with Chaos UK, and all of their comp appearances. If you don't have this stuff, I can't recommend it enough. This is the stuff that makes you better at this game. If you are a drummer or a guitarist in hardcore, this is the type of stuff you need to be listening to.

Youth of Today

The history of straight edge is a history of misrepresentation. I chalk this up to a vast, vast, vast majority of straight edge kids not getting it. This isn't a knock on straight edge the lifestyle choice, this is a knock on a lot of people who are straight edge. They don't get it. Even Youth of Today's predecessors didn't get it. When you really get down to it, Minor Threat was a bunch of guys from Georgetown who used straight edge to frown at the choices of others. SS Decontrol was a bunch of guys from Boston who used straight edge as an excuse to dole out beatings. Somewhere in between a Minor Threat & a SSD is a Uniform Choice. Uniform Choice was straight edge and introspective. It was more about looking out for yourself and your friends and not worrying about the choices of others. Uniform Choice got it. They were the happy medium.

The east coast version of Uniform Choice was Danbury, CT's (no, YOT was not actually from NYC) Youth of Today. While Judge & Project X were taking up SSD's mantle as the straight edge aggressor, Youth of Today was taking what Uniform Choice had been instilling for a few years already in Orange County. It was only fitting that Wishing Well (UC's label) would ultimately put out a Youth of Today record.

A lot can be said and made about youth crew. It is often dismissed as boring, lacking substance, and corny. Here are the basic elements of youth crew: a group of friends, focusing on the health of that group, bonded together through a certain lifestyle, and maintaining a positive lifestyle. It is almost like Islam in some ways. A movement that on paper looks really positive and fulfilling and, just like Islam, is grossly misinterpreted by novice fundamentalists who try to use said movement to advance their own personal ideology and agendas.

Youth of Today is the zenith of straight edge hardcore. That's the moment. They're the band that got it. They took what Uniform Choice was doing and were doing it against the backdrop of arguably the greatest period in the subculture's history: late 80's NYHC. Included here is all three of the band's LPs and the Disengage EP (which many argue is YOT's best work).


Leeway is interesting.

Here is a reality about the hardcore genre: there is a ceiling. At some point, you will have done everything you would want to do in hardcore and then you ask yourself, 'now what?' You'll branch out and try to harness new sounds, new aesthetics, and new markets. It is the natural course of things. This is how we arrive at a Best Wishes, a Grave New World, or a How We Rock. Hardcore is a young man's game and even the youngest at heart can't stay that way forever.

Leeway's track record is interesting because while they bore all the makings of what could have been a huge band. As big as their contemporaries like S.O.D., Prong, and even the Cro-Mags would become, Leeway never really escaped to be more than a hardcore band. I think what's more important is that they didn't care. Leeway is a group of hardcore kids from Queens doing their thing and they grew and stylistically it got better over time, but they never stopped being a hardcore band. You can't say that about much of the bands that would make the jump to other scenes.

Leeway wrote two seminal albums. One is an important album for the NYHC genre and one is an important crossover album. Born To Expire & Desperate Measures, respectively. I used to joke that you could tell a new jack from an initiate by their favorite Leeway album. A new jack will always ride with Born To Expire. The riffs are more pronounced, the lyrics are far more pointed, the album has grandiose intros and sudden breakdowns all over it. It is a hardcore kid's wet dream. An initiate is going to ride with Desperate Measures. On Desperate Measures, the rhythm section puts in a lot more work, AJ Novello's guitars are more subtle, and Eddie Sutton's lyrics show more growth on them. Desperate Measures is an album. Born To Expire is a collection of really, really good hardcore songs. Included also on this link is the Enforcer Demo and a live bootleg of a Leeway performance in 1991 Holland while they were promoting Desperate Measures. The live bootleg is worth the listen simply because of Eddie's banter which never fails to entertain.

Leeway is a beautiful band. Beautiful because the band could have gone to the moon. They could have taken over the world. No one will ever try to argue Leeway didn't have "it". They had the talent and the personality in spades. It's just at the end of the day, a bunch of punk kids from Queens didn't want to stop being punks, no matter what. Respect it or not, agree with it or not, that's fine but you have to admire it.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Iron Age

Iron Age is the closest thing that our generation will come to feeling what the Cro-Mags in the 80s was like.

Much in the way Stop And Think brought Boston into a new era, Iron Age was able to bring Texas into a new era. It was vocalist Tarpey's Next Level Records that would put out the Iron Age demo as well as the Bitter End demo. Iron Age's pedigree was a who's who of hardcore personalities. At the heart of it you had the two constants in vocalist Jason Tarpey (of Far From Breaking, Eternal Champion) and Wade (one of the greatest guitarists ever to have played in hardcore and of Drop Out fame).

Iron Age was the complete package. Aura, danger, violence, drugs, attitude, quality, mythology. No band has garnered more acclaim and contempt for their extracurricular activities than Iron Age. You actually had no idea what would happen at an Iron Age show, while the band was not so unpredictable people more had to worry about the squad of friends that accompanied Iron Age everywhere. Iron Age has a lot of friends. Those friends like to have a good time. Those friends are wan to take exception with people that might be acting out. Over the years, Iron Age has been at the heart of several brawls (be it at their own shows or not). Very few bands can honestly say they have a reputation for fighting the way Iron Age did. Iron Age and their squad would fight anyone, anywhere, anytime... and have.

Iron Age nailed the crossover sound perfectly. In my opinion Constant Struggle is the record that would have gone between Born To Expire & Desperate Measures. The difference is that Wade's guitarwork on Constant Struggle has a life of its own. When the leads come in, it is almost like a second vocalist is at work taking the song to other places. Not one to rest on their laurels, Iron Age kept hitting. To follow up Constant Struggle, Iron Age dropped the Burden of Empire single which bore a doom influence while also preserving their previous sound. The band then began their dress rehearsal for their follow-up and dropped The Way Is Narrow single. This single was Iron Age consummating where they wanted to go. The b-side of the single was a cover of the Flower Travelin' Band's Satori I. While much of the modern hardcore community likely shouted "who the fuck is Flower Travelin' Band?" Iron Age had staked their direction. They knew where they were going. The follow-up album, The Sleeping Eye, was ambitious with Iron Age following in the footsteps of the Cro-Mags and going completely into the metal direction. The album was marked escalation in scale, complexity, and depth. The band had spent years building to that point, with a swirl of personnel changes, a change of influences, and their own personal growth. Iron Age then released The Saga Demos which would be their final release. The band went dormant shortly after.

The band's memory has continued to live on. Through the kids who went to their shows and allowed Iron Age to influence and shape them.

Iron Age Forever.

Power Trip


Aura is impossible to manufacture. It is 100% organic. There is no telling how one obtains it and how one maintains it. Aura is what separates the legends from the happy-to-be-heres. A genre of music that has always had an "aura" to it is thrash metal. This is likely because of the guitar work in it. When you think of thrash, you think of the flying v guitars, the long hair, copious alcohol consumption, and circle pits. I know you think this because by now that is what has been manufactured, processed, and sold to you as thrash. You think of Slayer, Municipal Waste, Monster Energy Drink, Jager, and running laps like you're at the gym track on a Wednesday night. Power Trip is a gem because they are not that.

Before Power Trip came along in 2008, thrash was a genre whose constituency was segmented between elitist snobs, subcultural novices who only like Metallica & Slayer, and more advanced dad rockers. The most glaring thing about the thrash genre is that almost all of the greats still tour and put out records. Yes, this is just about as pitiful as it sounds. Because of this, if you are a new thrash band and you go out there you are literally competing against the greats for adoration. The second problem with thrash is that often times the 'act' of coming across partying, 'wylin out', etc looks really corny. Half the time the bands look more like Poison than Vio-lence.

This is where aura matters. Power Trip is a thrash band. They are a good thrash band. What makes their ascension so transcendental is their aura. Power Trip shows are a force unto their own. Kids have referred to them as a "fight to survive". I've heard old NYHC heads say Power Trip shows remind them of the late 80s CBGBs. The band took everything that their predecessors did and took it to the next level. Booze, drugs, always shadowed by a squad of 10-20 of their friends, violence, and an attitude that borders closer to nihilistic apathy than a Jeff Spicoli going "let's party".

It isn't enough to be a good band. Good bands are forgotten more often than the bad ones are. A kid who gets his nose broken, a kid who breaks their hand, a kid who loses a tooth... those kids won't ever forget where they were and who they were seeing when it happened. I have a concussion of my own to vouch for what a Power Trip show is. Aura is the currency in hardcore. It always has been and it always will be. Power Trip can always say they are a rich band.

This is their complete discography: demo, Armageddon Blues, Manifest Decimation, their Lockin Out single, a bootleg set from Fun Fun Fun Fest 2010 and their Withdrawal EP.

The Impalers


Sensibilities are a matter of belief and possession. Everyone believes they have em, fewer possess them. In today's hardcore scene, sensibilities appear to come at a premium. Almost like how George Bush / Queen Elizabeth / FDR were all related, it is eerie that the best personnel in the game are all friends and typically appear in the same projects. The Impalers are a d-beat (the genre equivalent to pizza; everyone loves it and eats it up) band from Austin, Texas. The Impalers feature Chris Ulsh (of your favorite Texas bands), Mike Sharp (of Sungod / Hatred Surge), Victor Gutierrez (of Criaturas / Vaaska), Cody Cox (of Glue), and Juan Carlos (of Blotter).

The hardest part about d-beat is keeping it fresh and keeping it hitting. The number one critique of the genre is that it often wears itself out and gets repetitive. The greats like Discharge and Anti-Cimex were able to avoid this and kept evolving. For better, Scandinavian Jawbreaker, or worse, Grave New World.

The Impalers have simply injected more of their influences into the project and keeping the sound in the family. You can hear more and more Motorhead in The Impalers' releases as time has gone on. It is very subtle and genius. Discharge has sometimes been derided as a Motorhead imitator. The Impalers have simply circumvented the game. While 99% of the game is looking towards the likes of Discharge, Anti-Cimex for influence... The Impalers have gone straight to the source. In the course of it, they have come out far ahead of their contemporaries.

This is their discography.


Who is the most iconic hardcore figure in the genre's short history? No individual has been emulated and idolized more than Raymond "Raybeez" Barbieri. He is the only individual in hardcore who receives an annual observance to honor and remember him (September 11th 1997 is the day he died). Raybeez's legacy and influence extends deep into hardcore. Raybeez drummed on Agnostic Front's debut record United Blood. Warzone & Youth Defense League (along with Forced Reality in CT) were some of the first bands to really bring oi and oi influenced hardcore to the USA. John Joseph of the Cro-Mags even credits his friendship to Raybeez, while they were both in the Navy, as a big help to his introduction of punk music. Raybeez is indispensable to the very fabric of hardcore punk. The conduit for much of Raybeez's influence was the legendary Warzone.

Warzone is a bridge band much in the way The Partisans & Bad Brains were. When Warzone came along hardcore in New York stopped and NYHC really began. Warzone was New York City personified. It was AMERICAN, it was a snarky attitude, it was a crew of friends, it was violent. Warzone MADE a lot of the things that are now in the subculture's lexicon into something real. You heard words like "crew" and knew it meant something.

I've talked about bands that are influential, essential, and important already so this next statement should really resonate: Warzone is the most important band in the history of hardcore. Before Warzone, hardcore was a genre of music. It was a forum of ideas and beliefs all clashing against one another. After Warzone, hardcore found its identity. We have Raybeez to thank for that. That is why every September 11th kids in the hardcore scene take a moment to remember him.

Pretty sure this is their entire discography. At the very least all of their albums and most of their demos.

The Psychos

Earlier I talked about Bad Brains' influence on NYHC. Keep score on this: two of the first projects to emerge from a Post-Bad Brains NYC were The Pyschos & Beastie Boys, a year after that you had the Cro-Mags. Beastie Boys & Cro-Mags biographies are pretty straight forward. The Psychos is interesting. It was originally fronted by Roger Miret. Roger would eventually leave to start some band called Agnostic Front. It would also feature one Billy Milano who would go on to form crossover legends Stormtroopers of Death & Method of Destruction. The problem with The Psychos was two fold: 1.) they had a revolving door at both bass and vocals. this lack of consistency would ultimately hold them back and 2.) by the time the band had recorded the One Voice demo, the NYHC was no longer incubating, it was blowing up and blowing up fast. The Psychos are one of those bands that we've all seen before. GREAT sound and GREAT presence but just couldn't hold it together long enough to make something real happen with it. It truly is a tragedy as The Psychos are now resigned to the history books as a giant "what if?"


One of the most beautiful things about the internet and its relationship to hardcore punk can be summed up in one word: accessibility. Gone are the days of hearing about a band or a release, then having to scour around in catalogues or distros hoping you'd come across it or hoping to god you had a homie who happened to have it and then having to find a way to record a bad dubbed version of said band's release. A lot of people will try to romanticize those days and say that they were better. Read what I just wrote, does that sound like fun? I'm getting anxiety just thinking about going through that process. One of the earliest beneficiaries of the internet and accessibility was Outburst.

Outburst was one of those rare and obscure NYHC bands like a Show Of Force or Skinhead Youth until the early 2000s when they became the source of attention and discussion on the XMulletX board. For those of you who don't know what the XMulletX board is, it was a message board that was intended for more initiated types within the hardcore scene. You had to pass an entrance exam to be granted admittance on the board. To be honest, it was a really great model that no one has dared to emulate since (the Nuclear War Now board does something similar but not nearly as intense).

Outburst's time only generated a demo and one record. Both are NYHC classics. They nail that bouncy sound that became the cornerstone of the early Lockin Out roster (no surprise that much of the early Lockin Out personnel also posted on XMulletX). In 2014, we consider Outburst as essential NYHC and commonplace. It wasn't always the case, we have the internet to thank for that.

The Partisans

Quick game of subculture Family Feud for you. "Name a punk band from Wales". The number one answer? THE PARTISANS.

The Partisans are an early textbook case of "kids taking things to the next level". Taking what bands like The Clash, The Sex Pistols, Cock Sparrer were doing, The Partisans came out attacking with their sound. With hits like "Police Story", "17 Years Of Hell" the band was able to encapsulate a lot of the discontent and anger that would become staples of the early USHC scene. Their attacking sound brought a new element into the burgeoning oi scene that was taking over the UK. For The Partisans, it wasn't enough to just be good or astute, they needed to be violent. They needed you to know they were violent. This aspect has had a lasting impact on the oi subculture. To this day, violence is an inseparable component of the oi genre and The Partisans are owed a debt of thanks for their influence.,_The.rar

Sick Symptom

Hardcore is all about the stylistic ebb and flow. Certain styles, for inexplicable reasons, make their way back to the forefront of the subculture's zeitgeist. This has ranged over the years from the youth crew revival of the late 90s (and later the failed second attempt of the mid to late 00s) to that time when Holy Terror tried to make Integrity happen, over and over again. A more pleasant, and welcomed, resurgence is the early to mid 2000s USHC scene. You know the bands, they populated the lineups of all the early Chaos In Tejas lineups. Government Warning (really that whole Mid-Atlantic scene), Severed Head of State, Deathreat, No Justice, Look Back and Laugh... and so on. One such band taking their influences and turning them into a cue is newly minted Sick Symptom. Sick Symptom features part Dallas hardcore upstarts Jay Chary & Noah Boyce (of Six Feet Under act Modern Pain) and Ryan Hughes (of Narrow Head & Pulled Under) on the band. On vocals the band has the services of Justin Ogden (of Let Down and, later, Wrong Answer fame). This four song demo has a lot of the same bite and menace that made their predecessors what they were. Check it out. Looking forward to more.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Bad Brains

Bad Brains is the greatest hardcore band of all time. This is not an opinion, it is a fact. The band is the bridge for when the genre stopped being just punk and it became hardcore. Their departure from DC to New York laid down all of the foundations for NYHC. Their ROIR Sessions (which were recorded in NYC) predate the likes of Victim In Pain, etc. Their performances at CBGB are what would pave the way for what was happening later in New York. The Cro-Mags don't happen without Bad Brains. The Beastie Boys don't happen without Bad Brains (put that in perspective). There is no band that is more important to the history of hardcore than the Bad Brains. Included is all of their albums and the live album from CBGB in 1982. This is as essential as it gets.


If you had to describe hardcore punk in a few words, what would they be? Snotty? Loud? Abrasive? All of those could and have been used to describe the genre. No city has embodied these characteristics than Cleveland. As previously profiled with The H-100s, Cleveland has a very proud history within the realm of hardcore punk. While the likes of Tony Erba deserve acclaim, there are others that can not be forgotten. The drummer of The H-100s, Wedge is a bit of a Clevo legend in his own right. A Burning Spirits-phile, Wedge has brought his personal touch into the likes of Gordon Solie Motherfuckers, 9 Shocks Terror, and Inmates.

Inmates is a bit of a supergroup. It also features Paul (of Cider, The Darvocets, Ruiners), Aaron Melnick (AKA A2 of Integrity AKA one of the greatest guitarists in hardcore ever), Leon Melnick (AKA Micha of Integrity and of In Cold Blood). Inmates has the pacing of a Burning Spirits band with the rhythms / vocals of an 81-86 USHC band. It is really a beautiful thing and they never fail to bring it. Look out for their new album that just dropped on Painkiller. This is Assholes Unanimous & their Government Crimes record.


There is no genre of music that has been more misinterpreted, misunderstood, and misrepresented than black metal. Too often in the discourse of extreme music when the term 'black metal' is mentioned does it illicit an eyeroll or dismissal. Here are the facts about the genre: 1) yes, there is a black metal scene in Norway that has received a great deal of sensationalism by sheer virtue of its members' criminal exploits 2.) that scene has been held up by many in the USA as a talisman to the entire genre 3.) these first two facts only confirm this post's opening statement.

Black metal is a genre filled with lots of great bands. One such band is Craft. Craft is from Sweden and only recently played their first show, despite having been a band for over a decade. The band embodies the nihilistic and misanthropic tenants of the genre while maintaining a certain bite to their sound that a lot of black metal bands fail to capture. This is all of their albums.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Rest In Pieces

On the subject of Straight Ahead, what's mentioning them without bringing up Rest In Pieces (which was Straight Ahead minus Tommy Carroll). Rest In Pieces is another NYHC classic that is lost in the modern discussion of the genre. Ironic because much like The Psychos, Skinhead Youth were overshadowed by their projects as was Rest In Pieces by Straight Ahead (in a stroke of irony) and Sick Of It All. My Rage is a personification of the NYHC genre and essential listening. The band's influence can be seen today in many bands featuring initiated personalities.

Straight Ahead

Straight Ahead is underrated. Say that out loud. Some initiated types would read that statement and probably laugh at its ludicrousy. Now here's why the statement matters: some people will read that post and say "who is Straight Ahead?" Here are the facts: Straight Ahead was a NYHC band during the scene's golden era. Straight Ahead featured some of the best guitarwork by any NYHC band ever. Straight Ahead is one of the greatest NYHC bands ever. Straight Ahead is a band that is polarizing by sheer virtue of the fact that the opposing argument to their value is anonymity. The Breakaway record is just as important to NYHC as Lower East Side Crew, the 87 Demo, Victim In Pain, and other classics. This link features the Breakaway record, the demo, a live bootleg and their portion of the End The Warzone comp

Invasion - Destino Final (it's the same band!)

It seems like bands don't have a lot of luck with the name Invasion. Be it here in the USA or in Barcelona. Invasion was around for a good minute and came to the USA a few times (notably featuring at the 2008 and 2009 editions of Chaos In Tejas). Their sound is like an orgy of the stuff that kids in the USA eat up today: vocals soaked in reverb, d-beat, and foreign lyrics. After two releases under the name Invasion, they changed their name to Destino Final and dropped one more release under their new moniker. After that they began work on a new record, which they would later scrap and then write another record that had a ton of darkwave influence which just led to members actually starting a darkwave project outright. We'll always have the memories and these releases. Enjoy.


There is one scene that takes the lead in the field of "wildly underrated bands": NYHC. For every Agnostic Front, there's The Psychos. For every Warzone, there is a Skinhead Youth. Show Of Force, Altercation, Sick Society are some of the other bands oft forgotten by kids. Another of these forgotten gems is Dynamo. Dynamo featured Carl The Mosher (of The Icemen) on vocals. Much like their contemporaries their style and sound was similar to a lot of other NYHC acts making it fairly easy for them to get lost in the mix and become forgotten. For NYHCphiles, however, Dynamo is nothing more than essential listening. This is their entire discography. Highly recommended.

Monday, September 1, 2014


On the subject of modern classics... Rampage. Rampage draws their influence from Straight Ahead. One of the greatest from NYHC's illustrious generation. Fast, aggressive, and pointed hardcore. Rampage's case is peculiar because their beginnings saw them written off largely as a joke band. The other side of the coin was that their demo was a simple feeling out process of what they wanted to be. Heads In A Vice is an impressive demo especially when considering that it was building up toward Limit of Destruction. By the time Rampage dropped Limit of Destruction they released an album that did Straight Ahead justice (and IMO Limit of Destruction is arguably the best Straight Ahead influenced record). This post has both their demo and LP. LOD is one of the best releases to come from Lockin Out Records.

The Marked Men

I was really sad the other night knowing that I had to miss The Marked Men's annual Rubber Gloves show in Denton. Living in Denton, you get treated to a lot of cool musical treats, but getting to see The Marked Men is one of the greatest. This is a band that can sell out venues most anywhere in the USA on their lonesome and I got to see them in the comfort of Rubber Gloves where the beers are 2 dollars and I can still smoke indoors. The Marked Men are the most important pop punk band of our generation. I am not kidding when I say that. When you chronicle pop punk from The Ramones to the Descendants to Screeching Weasel to around nowish you arrive at The Marked Men. Fix My Brain is a modern classic. Their other albums are also excellent. This is the stuff summer drives & autumn drives are made of. This is their four albums.

An addendum: when I was asking many of my younger friends in DFW if they were going to the gig, they responded that they had never heard of The Marked Men. This was very disconcerting to hear. I urge anyone who hasn't heard The Marked Men to do so at once.

Horror Show

A band whose time was so brief and despite their platform (two releases on Deathwish Inc and playing shows in the Philadelphia modern hardcore circuit) still remained relatively enigmatic. After the end of Horror Show, their status as an enigma has simply devolved into obscurity. It is a tragedy. At one point in the early 2000s, melodic hardcore in the vein of American Nightmare was the way to go. We saw bands like The Suicide File, early Blacklisted, and others pick up. Despite this, Horror Show still remained unheralded by many, resigned to a cult following. The thing that stuck out most about Horror Show's lyrics was the measure of pain in them. Lyrics about loss, isolation, and general melancholia that continue to resonate today. It is no real wonder (to everyone else's enjoyment) that Nicky parlayed much of what was going on in Horror Show toward his current project Nothing. This is both of their releases and a live bootleg.

Gordon Solie Motherfuckers

This is probably one of my favorite USHC bands ever. No joke. They embody so many things I love about hardcore to begin with: abrasive (legitimately), out of control live shows (imagine all the bands acclaimed for their wild live shows and GSMF lords over them), and catchy as hell. If hardcore bands are equivalent to a pro wrestler, it is only fitting that GSMF be compared to the legendary Bruiser Brody. Bruiser Brody, much like GSMF, was wild, out of his mind, and unknown to all but initiated circles. My only serious knock about GSMF is that they did not release more music. Enjoy their two releases, probably the only band that ever did a Warzone parody that was actually funny too.

Future - Live At Fader Fort SXSW 2012

This one isn't exactly guitar music but if you were at this show, you wouldn't have been the wiser. One of the biggest events of SXSW 2012 was Future's performance at the Fader Fort. This was long before Honest and maybe five seconds before Future became the household name he is today. Included in this set is a medley of his finest tracks (save for a few glaring omissions, "Tony Montana" for one). The crowd was completely involved in this set and there are times where you'd think you were at a hardcore show the way the crowd was singing along and finishing Future's bars constantly.