Posts Tagged ‘Agnostic Front’
Wednesday, February 23rd, 2011
A BIT OF THE OLD SCHOOL!
Agnostic Front may have defined New York Hardcore but they have had a much harder time defining themselves over the past few years. That’s a strange observation, eh? Well, many of their records did set the tone of hardcore in general. Victim in Pain might as well have been the blueprint for what was to come from NYC and in many ways was as significant as platters from the likes of SSD and Minor Threat. Its follow-up Cause for Alarm ushered in the age of “crossover” spawning the likes of Leeway and The Crumbsuckers who had no problem augmenting hardcore’s raw guitar attack with metallic riffery and the occasional lead flurry. (Fun fact: Carnivore and later Type O Negative’s late frontman Pete Steele helped write Cause For Alarm and penned the lyrics to their most controversial song “Public Assistance”)
The late 80’s showed a slow but sure growth for Agnostic Front culminating in One Voice, a record that in many ways can be placed on the mantelpiece of early metalcore without betraying AF’s roots. It was after that when things started to get a bit confusing.
QUICK HISTORY LESSON!
Something’s Gotta Give (1996), Riot, Riot Upstart (1999) and Dead Yuppies (2001) dabbled in the straight-ahead punk anthems, “Gotta Go” being the best of the bunch and still a crowd-pleaser. For the most part, those records weren’t what the die-hards were looking for – they seemed more a product of signing to Epitaph at the time Rancid were the rage. Follow-up albums Another Voice (2005) and Warriors (2009) started to bring back Agonistic Front’s hardcore and metal roots with a bit of help in the production department from Hatebreed’s Jamey Jasta and Madball’s Freddy Cricien respectively. The only problem there may be that AF followed their producer’s influences a bit too closely.
I WILL CLING TO THE OLD IRON CROSS….
My Life My Way is the Agnostic Front record closest in spirit to the days of old since, well, the old days! Produced once again by Cricien with the addition of Eric Rutan, it reaches back two decades to rouse the sound that guitarist Vinnie Stigma and frontman Roger Miret forged when life in Manhattan’s Alphabet City was more about squats than sky-high rents and condos. “My City” opens the album with a yen for that time of yore when they actually had hardcore gigs down at spots like A7 and Great Gildersleeves rather than the overpriced bars and shi shi restaurants that have taken over that landscape in the past decade.
Make no mistake, AF like their unity chants. “Us Against The World” has the impact of a better-produced “Your Mistake” (from Victim in Pain). Not that My Life My Way is entirely retro either. The title track salutes the NYHC kids that Roger and Vinnie left in their wake: particularly H2O with the positive and pissed verve that “Until The Day I Die” makes a rallying cry for. What they’re clinging to the old iron cross for is sort of a catch-all (unity, straight-edge. you name the PMA-related cause) but Roger’s throaty, mush-mouth-meets-Travis Bickle bark gets the job done. Even in Espanol (“A Mi Manera”) he still sells the hell out of it.
My Life My Way isn’t Victim In Pain (If you want that go pick up Bridge 9’s excellent re-issue of VIP and the United Blood EP). It simply can’t be. Those records have already been added to hardcore’s mighty cannon, leaving the playing-field open for everyone for everyone from Emmure to Touche Amore to make damn sure the kids are still having their say. It is a damn good Agnostic Front album tho!
Rating: B +
Tuesday, May 11th, 2010
- Black Flag- “Damaged”- Between being Black Flag’s first full length and the addition of Henry Rollins, this is definitely one of the greatest hardcore/ punk albums of all time. Rollins brought the band to a completely different place and was the big push to finally get shit done. Since then ‘Rise Above’ and ‘Gimmie Gimmie Gimmie’ have gotten popular and been covered by numerous artists, but ‘TV Party’ is still my favorite song by these pioneers. “We’re gonna have a TV party tonight, we’re gonna have a TV party alright!”
- Donnybrook!- “Lions in this Game”- This band has been one of my favorites for quite some time now. ‘Down For The Core’ is thee hardcore anthem of my generation. Between an awesome album and even better live shows, Donnybrook! is definitely worth getting in to. They’re one of those bands that you can see their heart is beating for the heavy, which is always awesome to see. “Peel back the flesh and expose my veins. My blood runs thick and that won’t ever change. Love for my family’s strong and here to stay. Down for the core ‘til in my grave I lay.”
- Icepick- “Violent Epiphany”- Jamey Jasta (Hatebreed) and Danny Diablo (Skarhead, Crown of Thornz) have nailed it, you will never see Icepick live considering they’re just a studio project, but it doesn’t matter… they’re as hard as they come. Not to mention ICE T makes an appearance on ’Real Recognizes Real’. LEGIT. Icepick is the epitome of mean, obscene, angry, tough guy hardcore. There will be a new album in 2011 and I cannot wait. “Icepick mother fucker. It’s going down faggots. Run and grab your mother fucking momma’s skirt. This is real. This is Ice T, Body Count bitch. This is as real as your life is gonna get.”
- Reign Supreme- “American Violence EP”- When I saw these guys at Sound and Fury in 2008, I was instantly hooked. I still rock their obnoxiously bright purple and teal shirt that I bought there. They’re definitely more on the punk side then the rest of my favorites, but this band is diverse and talented; their first full-length album, “Testing The Limits Of Infinite” really shows that. However, “American Violence” is where it’s at in terms of the heart of Reign Supreme. “ISCARIOOOOOT”
- E-Town Concrete- “Made for War”- So I rarely like hardcore/ rap fusions because most come out looking like a bunch of tools, but these New Jersey boys are a really great exception. E-Town has the perfect balance of hardcore riffs, nod-your-head hip hop, and lyrics that reflect shit that matters. True to hardcore form, “If you’re not with us you’re against us”.
- Remembering Never- “God Save Us”- First off let me say, Mean Pete Kowalsky can do no wrong for me… xBishopx, Until The End, AND Remembering Never, he fucking rules. Remembering Never is a very political band, but whether or not you share their views, their music is definitely something to get hooked on. Their song ‘Slaughterhouse Blues’ is what turned me to veganism for 3 years because their lyrics made me believe that what they were saying was true and right, the passion is definitely there. “All the work and prayers burn, a waste of sweat and breath. God turns his deaf ear to me, like I’m the one that doesn’t exist.”
- Deez Nuts- “Stay True” – Well, they’re a bunch of raunchy, honest, Australians; hard to get much better than that. It’s such a bummer… every single time I’ve tried to see them they can’t get their fucking work visas for the US, that’s some bullshit. Anyway, these guys talk about the rockstar lifestyle and staying true to yourself. Inexplicably easy, unapologetically obscene, and undeniably hard, this shit is awesome. “You’re nobody. We don’t need you. You were never shit. Your fucking mother should’ve swallowed you.”
- Death Before Dishonor- “Count Me In”- Boston hardcore at its finest. This album is heavier and harder than their other ones, and there are definitely enough powerful gang vocals to go around. DBD is a really good mix of hardcore and punk, they never fail to put me in a ‘fuck you ’mood. “I came to fight. I came to win. Count me in.”
- Terror- “One with the Underdogs”- Terror has become synonymous with hardcore, these guys stay true to their roots and have a lot of fun doing it. The lyrics are straightforward, the music is powerful, and their live shows are insane. They never back down to their ideals or change their style too much. This is straight up, hardcore. “Fuck everything and everybody, hypocrites and all the fakes, leeches and the followers, best to stay out of my way. Out of my face, out of my way.”
- Cockpunch!- “Attack”- So, Cockpunch! may not be the most popular or technical band, but I love them. Straight edge, hilarious, and surprisingly good riffs, these guys are winners in my book. “You! I don’t know you, but I fucking hate you. You just come here to get fucked, I hope you get a disease.”
Honorable Mentions! Cro-Mags, Minor Threat, Suicidal Tendencies, Hatebreed, Throwdown, Earth Crisis, Youth Brigade, Bad Brains, Trapped Under Ice, H2O, Gorilla Biscuits, Bad Religion, 7 Seconds, Sick Of It All, Agnostic Front, Blood For Blood, For The Fallen Dreams, Emmure, Stick to your Guns, The Acacia Strain, Madball, Alpha & Omega, Misery Signals, Touche Amore, and Vanna
Monday, May 10th, 2010
Critical Failure (Deep Six)
I’m usually a sucker for bullshit-less crust punk annihilation and appreciate the better crossover bands, although I find quality control issues to be much more pervasive in cases of the latter. Anyway, Critical Failure, the debut album from a group of familiar faces collectively known as D.I.S. is an album that can be characterized as a mix of somewhat crusty (but not quite crusty enough) d-beat hardcore, and NYHC with metal flourishes, yet not in a traditional crossover sense. In the way of executive summary, it is solid for the most part, but generally indistinct.
Back to those familiar faces, D.I.S. does boast something of a powerhouse lineup, including guitarist/founder Bruce Reeves (ex-PHOBIA), drummer Sean Vahle (EAT THE LIVING), vocalist Mike Fisher (ex-NO WARNING), bassist Kent Elmore (ex-MANGE), and guitarist Leon Del Muerte (EXHUMED, INTRONAUT, PHOBIA, IMPALED, MURDER CONSTRUCT).
Yet as aggressive and at times convincingly written as Critical Failure may be, it is not a powerhouse album, although it did start to grow on me after the second or third spins. Those overdriven bass lines, basic/effective chainsaw riffs, and generally frantic delivery work pretty well in creating a belligerent listening experience and most fans of hardcore/crossover wouldn’t have a lot about which to complain. Some effective vocal change-ups, such as growl punch-ins and infrequent Vinnie Stigma (AGNOSTIC FRONT) bits, add quite a bit of value and the guitar leads (as in both melodic leads and unhinged solos) on a rugged crust punker like “Fake” fit cohesively well.
So what’s the problem? Well, there isn’t a “big” problem per se. Hell, the violence is not only real, it is necessary on Critical Failure. In that regard no doubt is involved, only recognition that the album lacks some degree of distinction and at times comes off a bit lackluster. In other words, the only battle Critical Failure will probably lose is perhaps its most important one; the one over your hard earned dollars in a d-beat/hardcore/crust market that offers albums with more bang for the buck. It is what it is.