Reviews by Reza Mills

D.R.I.-Dealing With It! (1985) D.R.I.'s 2nd album released in 1985 was and is one of the most important albums in bridging together the gap between hardcore and thrash. D.R.I. were one of the most prominent 'crossover' acts of the mid 80's, and alongside Corrosion Of Conformity were one of the first bands to meld together the punk/metal divide. The album marks a definite progression from their 1983 debut Dirty Rotten LP. You still get moments of breakneck hardcore that flash by under a minute, but these are now interspersed with more lengthy thrashers, making this a more effective and varied release than the aforementioned debut. This is an album both metalheads and punks will be able to appreciate. From the fast and funny 'Madman' to the slightly more 'serious' and longer 'Nursing Home Blues', there's something here for everyone.

Carnivore-Retaliation (1987) Who would have thought it? Pete Steele frontman of gloomy Goth rockers Type O Negative in a hardcore band! Fans of his latter outfit will probably not enjoy this release, but any self-respecting hardcore fan almost certainly will. This album is a much more aggressive release than their self-titled debut released the previous year. Starting off with what has to be one of the most disgusting tracks I've ever heard 'Jack Daniel's and Pizza', the album kicks off to a blistering start with the brutal 'Angry Neurotic Catholics' before launching headlong into S.M.D. But beware this album is not exactly what you would call politically correct! Some lyrics have a dubious sexual and racist connotation to them that some listeners may find hard to stomach. If you can get past that than you will certainly be able to enjoy this crossover classic.

Sick Of It All-Call To Arms (1999) This undoubtedly has to be one of my favourite Sick Of It All albums. Actually make that my favourite album of all time. It looks like the move from East West to Nofx's Fat wreck Chord label helped the band to relax and actually have fun making music again without the pressures being on a major label can bring and on nowhere else is this evident than on this album! The album is packed with everything that makes Sick Of It All or Hardcore for that matter great. Instruments are played with blistering speed and aggression, but the highpoint has to be vocalist Lou Koller who barks out lyrics like a bulldog chewing on broken glass. Highlights of the album would have to be 'Call to Arms', 'Potential for a fall' and 'Sanctuary' (In my opinion one of the best songs they have written). This is not only a far cry from the days of 'Blood, sweat and no tears' where they tried too hard to sound like Agnostic Front, but is especially superior to the overrated but still excellent 'Scratch The Surface' album.

Suicidal Tendencies-Suicidal Tendencies (1983) Fact; Suicidal Tendencies have and never will better this album. Whilst they have made some excellent albums over the past number of years, (Join The Army and Freedumb in particular), none of them are able to match the passion, humour and sheer genius of this self-titled debut. Suicidal Tendencies raged with the best of them, but what makes them stand out from the rest is the sense of humour So clearly on display here, especially on the likes of 'Institutionalised' and 'I saw your mommy'. Lines such as 'All I wanted was one Pepsi, just one Pepsi and she wouldn't give it to me' from the aforementioned 'Institutionalised' show that the band had a funny side as well. The album which thunders along at a thunderous pace, barely pausing for breath, helped to single-handedly invent the skate punk sound, which though admirably imitated by NOFX and their peers never comes close to matching the original.

M.O.D.-U.S.A. for M.O.D. (1987) M.O.D. or Methods of destruction is Billy Milano's full time band and unsurprisingly they sound identical to his one off supergroup project S.O.D. Released two years after 'Speak English or die' 'U.S.A. for M.O.D.' pretty much the same Anthrax influenced punk metal blueprint. Like 'Dealing With it!' and 'Retaliation', this is an album both metalheads and punks will have little trouble getting into. One thing this is not is serious, especially with songs like 'Don't feed the bears' and 'Ballad of Dio'. However like its predecessor 'Speak English or die' it has at times some rather controversial and dodgy lyrics displayed on songs such as 'Imported society' and 'A.I.D.S.' which on first appearance seems to be racist and homophobic respectively. However if you take it as the joke its meant to be than this is a humorous and speedy release which no fan of hardcore/thrash should be without.

Black Flag-My War (1983) What can you say about Black Flag that hasn't already been said? Long before Bizkits and Korns, we had bands like Black Flag. Black Flag's influence on today's music scene is undeniable, everyone from Pennywise to Eyehategod acknowledge the outstanding legacy that these legendary LA Punks have had on their work. This is by far their best album. As dark and menacing as anything Slipknot could ever dream up, and they didn't need ridiculous masks or boiler suits either! The album has a disturbingly dark theme running through it. Whereas Damaged was more direct and in-your-face, My War in comparison is a far subtler though no less bludgeoning effort. This is a fine starting point for anyone wanting to get into these legendary LA Punks. It has everything from the hardcore punk rock of the title track to the almost Sabbathy doom protosludge of the last three tracks. This is the soundtrack to your worst nightmare.

Bad Brains-Bad Brains (1982) 'The best punk/hardcore album of all time' quotes Adam Yauch of the Beastie Boys on the back of the album, and he's not far wrong. Bad Brains started out as a Jazz-Fusion outfit called Mind Power, and were certainly distinctive in the way they stood out as Black Rastafarians playing hardcore alongside skinny white punks. Bad Brains were always more unique and diverse than their contemporaries, ranging from throat shredding hardcore ALA Banned In DC, and Sailin'on, to Bob Marley inspired soothing reggae passages in the forms of Jah Calling and I Luv I Jah. This outfit has had a substantial influence on bands ranging from Living Colour to the Beastie Boys and even Christian nu-metallers P.O.D. (HR having guested on their Satellite album). This is the only hardcore album you NEED to own.

Biohazard- Urban Discipline (1992) ‘It’s a motherfucking homicide, just desserts, shotgun pointed right where it hurts’. These are the opening lines of this Biohazard’s 2nd and best album. It’s strange to think that their hardcore peers view them with a certain degree of contempt, especially when you consider the many classics available on this album. From the aforementioned opening track, ‘Chamber spins three’, to the rerecorded ‘Hold my own’ at the end, at no stage is there any let up in the blue collar/working class fury on display here. Every song is an anthem for the disaffected made by tattooed street fighting men. Among the many classics on display are ‘Punishment’ which garnered them some MTV airtime on Head bangers Ball, to ‘Black and white and red all over’ which puts an end to the absurd rumour that Biohazard were Nazi’s, (especially when half the band are Jewish!), to the best ever cover I’ve heard of Bad Religion’s ‘We’re gonna die for our own arrogance’. Ignore what the hardcore purists are telling you and go buy this album. Trust me you won’t be disappointed.

Roadrunner Records- (9)

Biohazard-S/T (1990) This self-titled debut from back in 1990 is probably one of the most overlooked and least well known of Biohazard’s albums. Which is a shame as there are some gems to be found here. You can hear their hardcore metal/rap fusion in its earliest stages, especially on the likes of ‘Hold My Own’ and ‘Wrong Side of the Tracks’, which though good, sound better on the aforementioned ‘Urban Discipline’ CD. Both ‘Blue Blood’ and ‘Howard Beach’ pack a mean punch and are definately the best songs on this album. Last song ‘Scarred for life’ is reminiscent of ‘Love Denied’ from ‘State of the World Address’ not only in the piano led intro, but also in the length and position on the album, (They are both the last songs on their respective albums). Though far from being their best work, this is nonetheless an album any hardcore Biohazard fan will enjoy.

(8)- Magnetic Air Records

Hatebreed- Perseverance (2002) Five years on and its hard to see how Hatebreed could possibly better THAT debut. Contractual difficulties delayed the release of this follow up, but it has definitely been well worth the wait. The first thing that you notice is the infinitely better production job on display here, a more thicker sound than before. The next and most important are the songs. Ah! The songs! Kicking off to a brutal start with ‘Proven’ ‘You want to see me fail, you wont get your chance!’ helps to put an end to any concerns that Hatebreed may have softened since moving to a major label such as Universal. It also helps put rest to any fears that the boys may have been corrupted by the likes of Slipknot et al with whom they have been touring and therefore ‘sold out’. ‘I will be heard’ with its huge Biohazard type chorus is destined to be a future classic. But the best song on this release without doubt has to be ‘A call for blood’, which thunders along with death metal type intensity and Jamey roaring out ‘I fucking hate you, every bone in my body will break!’ Perseverance without doubt has more of a death metal influence to it than previous releases, but this shouldn’t put you off what is an excellent hardcore album.

(9)- Universal Records.

The Minutemen- The Punch line (1981) Formed back in 1979 as The Reactionaries, this legendary Jazz-Punk trio would go onto influence a countless generation of Alternative artists from Primus, Porno For Pyros, Jane’s Addiction and The Red Hot Chilli Peppers. These guys were far from your average hardcore band of the day, they were a whole different beast altogether. Most of the songs on this album are under a minute, though contrary to popular rumour this is not the reason for their name! ‘Search’ which starts off the album, is the type of song that would not be entirely out of place on an early Chilli peppers record, with its funky bass and drums and crooning vocals reminiscent of a certain Mr. Kiedis. The album follows in pretty much the same vein, and is therefore a far less varied effort than 84’s ‘Double Nickel on The Dime’. This CD is also very political and its clear that D. Boon and the boys weren’t exactly happy with the state that the world was in. This album does take a while to get into, but for any forward thinking punk fan, it’s a thoroughly rewarding listening experience.

(8)- SST Records

At the Drive-In- Relationship of Command (2000) Back in 2000 this was the most hyped album of the year, much like The Strokes’ ‘Is This It?’ is today. However there is one crucial difference, At the Drive were an excellent band whereas The Strokes are, well…not. This last album from the El-Paso crew before they spilt up, is far more aggressive than previous efforts like In/Casino/Out and although it is produced by the infamous Ross Robinson, don’t let that put you off! Among the many highlights on the album are opening track ‘Arcarsenal’, ‘One Armed Scissor’ and my personal favourite ‘Invalid Litter Department’. What makes this standout however, is how original and fresh it sounds and quite unlike anybody else, (Though Fugazi does spring to mind), as well as the amazing hooks and melodies on offer. It is hard to categorize what kind of music ATDI are and I’ve heard it called everything from Hardcore to Emo and even Cosmic Punk!* It is for this reason that the album is such a unique and commanding release, which is well worth investigating.

You know who you are! (Joe).

(10)- Grand Royal

Agnostic Front – Cause For Alarm/Victim in Pain (1986) This is a reissue of the first two classic Agnostic Front albums, but in reverse order. Cause For Alarm, the second album is a decidedly more ‘metallic’ effort than the previous years’ ‘Victim in Pain’, mixing in their trademark hardcore punk with speed metal. This album is considered one of the most important albums to emerge from the 80’s, setting the precedent if you like for the emerging ‘crossover’ scene and would go on to influence countless bands from Carnivore and M.O.D, to more straight ahead metal acts such as Metallica and Slayer (who were seen wearing AF T-shirts!). It also stirred up quite a bit of controversy as well, as many die-hard fans saw this new found direction as a sign of selling out! This is hard to comprehend these days, when you take into account the considerable number of metal-core acts mixing in hardcore with thrash/death metal. But back in 86’ this was a big deal! It seems doubly ridiculous when you think about it, because this CD is meaner and faster than previously. The debut album also available is considered something of a classic which it is thought Agnostic Front will never be able to better. This is something of an overstatement to say the least. ‘Victim in Pain’ whilst good, doesn’t offer much in terms of variety in comparison to its follow up. Still there are still some real classics on offer here such as, ‘Fascist Attitudes’ and ‘United and strong’, to name but a few. The album basically follows up where debut EP United Blood left off. Pummelling hardcore and not much else. However that said, this is still a pretty good package overall and should be of interest to anyone interested in the NYHC scene.

(9) – Combat

Ludichrist- Immaculate Deception (1986) Unlike their peers Crumbsuckers and Nuclear Assault, Ludichrist was a much more interesting and varied proposition altogether. Astoundingly talented musicians, these boys kicked up quite a hardcore racket, yet combined this with various musical styles ranging from Blues to Jazz, Funk and even a touch of Rap thrown in for good measure. Yep you heard me correctly, Rap. Despair not though, I’m not talking about modern day dunces such as Kid Rock and his like, but Biohazard/Anthrax/Public Enemy Bring the Noize style Rap, acts which Ludichrist were in some ways the forefathers of. It doesn’t even seem like this album was released in 1986, the aforementioned variety of musical styles making it seem way ahead of its time. What else helps this album to stand out from the rest of the pack, is the sense of humour on display, especially on the likes of ‘Green Eggs and Ham’, which is the title of a Dr. Suess book! That’s not to say however that Ludichrist have nothing to say. The album is laden with political/social issues. Everything from Politics, Religion and Race is covered here. Yet it is the aforementioned sense of humour which makes it easier to stomach. The band would go on to release 88’s Powertrip, which many view as their best effort and which pushed the boundaries even further. Unfortunately the band would soon spilt up after this to form the more lightweight and inferior Scatterbrain. But Ludichrist is a band everyone should check out, this album being the perfect place to start.

10 – Combat Records

MDC – Millions of Dead cops/More Dead Cops – (1982) Originally called The Stains, these guys had a Dead Kennedy’s connection and I don’t just mean sound wise. East Bay Ray and Klaus Fluoride, guitar and bass player of the DK’s respectively, helped out with the production of this record. There are similarities between the two bands, both sound wise and politically, but MDC have a far more brutal approach to both and as a result are relatively less well known than The Kennedy’s. This is a particular shame, as this has to be one of the most face- shredding, pissed off hardcore I’ve ever come across. Politics is naturally the focus and of a very left wing kind as well. One thing is for sure these guys sure don’t like the police! Not only because of their band name (Millions of Dead Cops), but also on songs such as ‘Dead Cops/America's so straight’ and ‘I Remember’. It is inevitable that as a left wing band, Multinational Corporations such as McDonalds are going to come under attack such as on ‘Corporate Deathburger’. But the ultimate song here has to be ‘John Wayne is a Nazi’. Let’s just say I won’t be looking at his movies in quite the same way again! The other LP on offer is ‘More Dead Cops’ which is an odds’ and sods’ collection of EP’s and various unreleased material, which is especially good for people like me who can’t be bothered hunting down every single song ever committed to CD. The first two songs on this LP however are simply slower and older versions of ‘John Wayne is a Nazi’ and ‘Born to die’, recorded as The Stains, which I found to be completely pointless and unremarkable to say the least. Fortunately the ‘Multi-death Corporation’ EP helps to improve things somewhat and is even more manic and brutal than the self-titled debut. So much so that this caught the attention of Crass’ Steve Ignorant who included it on his Bullshit Detector compilation, making MDC the only American band to be signed onto it! The rest of the album follows pretty much the same pattern, with the sole exception of the frankly hilarious mock redneck/country style song ‘Chicken Squawk’ proving that MDC had a sense of humour after-all! The last two songs on this compilation are throwaway 70’s covers, of little importance to anyone. Overall this is a decent compilation but not as essential as the self-titled debut.

(8) – Radical Records

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