THIS IS *REAL* HARDCORE, FRUITS [via the neighborhood]
If you like songs about castles, monsters, and wizards, you are probably a metal fan. And I get it: what better way to escape from the brutal reality of being, well, who you are?? I can’t fault you for wanting to escape, but that’s never been me. I like the way metal sounds, but I can’t get with the ridiculous lyrics, costumes and all that. When it comes down to it I am a hardcore kid, and I will always like bands who keep it real (even if they end up being a little bit lulzy along the way). More specifically, I have a pretty serious self-destructive streak, so I’ve always been drawn to bands who are more about being fucked up, confused and angry than emo/p0litical [via college freshmen].
When a lot of these bands come up, the fanboys come out of the woodwork with third-hand stories about stuff they supposedly did and how tough and “crazy” they are. You won’t find any of that here– I’ll save the gossip for the little girls and Euro fanbois, but if you are interested you can consult the Bridge 9 “Hardcore rumors and myths” thread, Frank 151’s DMS issue, or my interview with Ezec and fap away. This is about their actual music, not addressing your feelings of inadequacy by making up exaggerated stories about guys in bands to turn them into the alpha male you always wished you could be.
In this post, I will share some of my favorite REAL HARDCORE bands- I’m leaving out the obvious stuff like Terror, Hatebreed, etc because we all know about that. I’m also not including any emo, political or artsy bands, so no Chokehold, Converge, Botch, and all that nonsense. And if you want to show everyone that “you really know what you’re talking about” and tell me that I should be into JFA, Violent Children, Impact Unit, and Deep Wound that’s cool too- feel free to leave a comment to that effect!
OLC “Real Domain”
I lived in Cleveland when these guys were at their peak (late 90s), and at the time I just thought they were a bunch of fat, ignorant assholes (although John Lockjaw and Chubby Fresh were always real friendly and nice to me). Now that I think about it, though, they were 100% on point: snot-nosed, know-it-all kids from the suburbs who run their mouth to the wrong people deserve a beating. “You ignorant kid, you punk-rock backwoods fuck / Rebel against the norm, try to rebel towards me” is one of the best lines in the history of hardcore and I completely support anybody who puts some kid with a big mouth in his place.
I may have told this story before, but one of the best/weirdest moments of my life was interviewing Mean Steve in 1997 with my friend Bobby at his tanning salon. It was hard to do the interview, because like every 45 seconds he would have to answer the phone by saying “Thank you for calling Sunbelievable, this is Steve, may I help you?”
Irate “NY Metal”
Don’t know much about this band except that this album is a seriously fucking underrated NYHC classic. As far as I’m concerned, these guys are up there with Merauder when it comes to combining legit metal riffing with the brutality, aggression and groove of hardcore, and this record is a key fixture on my gym playlists. As weird as it sounds, these guys actually have a pretty significant softer side, with songs like “I Remember” and “Depression” getting emo in a brutal kind of way.
Vietnom “Talkin Shit”
My friend who is locked up for murder loves this band. His favorite line is “Stare, beware, bring the motherfuckin hardware. I know you’re scared, I can see you shittin’ in your underwear.” Personally I liked “Takin what you got, blowin up your spot” a little better, but whatever– this track is a banger from start to finish. No idea what happened to these guys but they had some swagger!
Furious Styles “Words Of A King”
When it comes to punk and hardcore, Seattle is mostly known for our shrill, annoying, artsy bands like Botch, Blood Brothers, Murder City Devils, and so forth. That’s too bad, because there were some awesome bands over the years who played real hardcore: Left With Nothing, Everything Went Black, and of course FURIOUS STYLES. They had a couple records, but I liked their 2005 demo best, and this is their signature track in my opinion- mandatory for all gym playlists.
When it comes to thugged out party songs, there is nobody better than the one and only Skarhead! I got their first 10″ when I was like 16, and obviously it was way over my head, so the older and sleazier I get the more I love this band. That should probably make me question some of my life choices, but fuck it– if you get what the line “put the straw in the back, fuck breaking the rocks” means, we are bros.
Too Pure To Die “For Me This Is Life”
In contrast to many of the grimy, thugged out bands I like Iowa’s TPTD were a good old-fashioned, no-frills moshcore band along the lines of old Throwdown. I guess they have some other albums, but I didn’t like them as much as this one- I love listening to songs like “X The Fuck Up” when I am drunk/high and finger-pointing while I sing along.
Death Threat “Now Here Fast”
Not sure why so many people hate on this band, but to me they are up there with greats like Terror when it comes to desperate regretcore. Most of their songs are about being disgusted with yourself for being a fuckup, which is something I know a thing or two about. The only cure for self-hatred is to MOSH, and Death Threat definitely brings the mosh! The thing I like most about them, aside from awesomely retarded/true lyrics like “When you’ve got nothing you don’t give a fuck,” is that they have a lot of fast parts to temper the breakdowns so it feels super punk- basically if you were commissioned by the Library of Congress or something to document the blueprint for “real hardcore,” it would be Death Threat. It just doesn’t get any fucking harder than this record!
I love Death Threat so much I got a “Now Here Fast” tattoo (left); on the right is “Forever Blue” (from the Chris Isaak song). I’d like to think it’s the right combination of ignorance and emo pussy-ness
Icepick “Born To Crush You”
Although it kind of came and went without a lot of hype, the Icepick record stands as a classic, and I still jam it on the regular. With a lineup that includes Jamey Jasta, Frank 3 Gun, and Ezec, it’s pretty hard to go wrong- oh, and did I mention guest appearances by ICE MOTHERFUCKIN T?!?! If you don’t mosh around your room and break stuff when you listen to this song, you should probably suicide yourself immediately.
Cold As Life “Cold As Life”
Only a bleak, lifeless wasteland like Detroit could produce a band as hard as Cold As Life. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but there’s something about this band that’s just one notch darker, meaner, and more hopeless than anybody else from their generation except perhaps Darkside NYC. There’s nothing but misanthropy, anger and bitterness here, my friends. Saw them once with All Out War in Cleveland around 1998 or so at this weird place with a glass tile floor, and even though there weren’t many people at the show I was srsly afraid the floor might collapse.
You could make a pretty convincing case for Bulldoze being the inventors of beatdown hardcore. After all, they were a DMS band, their album was called “The Final Beatdown” and it had a song called “Beatdown,” and they will make you want to punch someone in the face. It’s not quite as polished as some of the other 90s bands, but it’s hard as fucking nails. Also check out singer Kevone’s later band Terrorzone (featuring one of my favorite lines ever about his stint in jail “I regret what I did, and I had to do a bid”) as well as the highly underrated Agents of Man CD featuring the bassist and drummer for Bulldoze (buy it here from Century Media for $3).
25 Ta Life “Loyal To Tha Grave”
It would be an understatement to say that it’s a stretch to call 25 Ta Life a great (or even good) band. I’m not hating, but let’s be real: 25 Ta Life has quality control practices that make a Chinese factory that produces cheap, poisonous bootleg pharmaceuticals look like they run a tight ship. That said, they have one record that is kind of awesome: the 10″ on Triple Crown. Rick must have convinced someone talented to be in his band for a minute, because this record pretty much sounds like Obituary- and with guest vocals from Ezec and Freddy Madball, how can you go wrong?!
Fury Of V “Do Or Die”
I could write a whole post about these Jersey Shore legends, but I will just say that this video is amazing in so many ways. Specifically, that it so perfectly captures the mid/late 90s: the dreads, the Nautica shirts, the puffy vests, the windmilling… the bottom line is FURY OF V = YOU’RE FUCKING MOSHING!
Merauder “Master Killer”
Last but DEFINITELY not least is maybe my favorite NYHC band of all time, MERAUDER! I have no idea “Master Killer” isn’t held up next to “Age Of Quarrel” and “Victim In Pain,” because it’s THAT fucking good. SOB had riffs for days, Jorge sounded like he would rather be killing someone, and for once the production was actually good. I don’t know that I would call Merauder unknown or obscure, but I definitely don’t think they got the credit they deserve for being one of the originators of metalcore and recording what is likely the hardest album in the history of New York hardcore. You can actually get all three of their records on a 2-CD set [via Century Media] so if you don’t already have it, BUY NOW OR POSE!
What did I miss? What current bands (like Lifeless) are doing this kind of shit?? Why isn’t Merauder everybody’s favorite NYHC band???