Friday, January 16, 2015

Violent Minds

Hardcore punk has two qualities that have made people gravitate toward it since time immemorial: personality and animalistic conduct. People like hardcore because it is out of control. They want to hear that this dude in that band is "out of his mind". The story of Violent Minds is unique. It's the only way to describe it. The band was a cut out of the 80s NYHC scene. Not in the sense of sound, in that sense they were first wave USHC, 100%. They were a cut out in the sense that the band featured a revolving door of members, but, like, Agnostic Front with Stigma / Miret and Warzone with Raybeez, Violent Minds also had its talisman: vocalist Zach Amster AKA Zach Attack.

Amster made a name for himself in the early 2000s Philadelphia hardcore scene with the band Shark Attack (along with one-time Violent Minds member Matt Summers). After Shark Attack ended, Amster would move to Toronto to join No Warning. It was there that the seeds would be planted for Violent Minds. The early 2000s Toronto hardcore scene was (and really, still is) a bit of a jaded place. The kids there knew hardcore better than most people in North America. They would tell you if they thought you sucked and if you weren't good, you didn't last. It was that simple. This was the same scene that would produce the likes of No Warning, Career Suicide, and Fucked Up.

Quick to ensure that Violent Minds would not become "The Zach Amster Show", Amster molded a talisman for the band in the image of the wolf.

The Wolf.

So much has been written about the animal that it defies any effort to catalogue it. Books have been written to discuss its feral nature. Poems written to describe its pride and spirit. Movies made to provoke fear into the hearts of people. The wolf is both the most beautiful and terrifying animal. It was for these reasons that Amster chose it for Violent Minds.

The band would see a variety of personnel come and go over the years. Despite that, the band continued to write excellent music. In the process, they quietly became one of the best hardcore bands of the 2000s. It didn't matter if they weren't headlining fests or selling out a thousand records. They knew they were great. The people who knew them, knew that. Violent Minds became an understanding among the initiated.

Amster chose the wolf for another reason: it is immortal. Much like Aldo Leopold wrote of the resurgence of the wolf population after their near extinction in A Sand County Almanac, Violent Minds can't die. It won't die. This spring, Amster is returning to the studio to record a new LP along with Ben Cook (No Warning, Fucked Up), Justin DeTore (not even going to try to list them all), Haroun Khan (RZL DZL, Cold World, Build & Destroy), and Matt DeLong (No Warning). Along the way will also be long time Violent Minds member Tait Organt who will be there to tour with the band (this does mean Violent Mind gigs are coming).

The wolf is back.