‘Rock For Light’, Bad Brain’s sophomore album, with its 20 flawless tracks it sounds like a “Greatest Hits” album that any other band would have released! It is one of the most influential and original albums, a landmark in music’s history and easily one of the top 50 rock/metal albums of all time! Rock for light was the hardest, fastest hardcore album with by far the best musicianship from all the other hardcore releases of its time! It is chock-full of blurring speed and power but also catchy melodies and soul! Due to the album’s 20 tracks, it is a grower, so give it a few listens to fully appreciate it. ~Mr. Metalised

Released in 1983 by PVC, Caroline (re-issue)
Best Songs: Attitude, We Will Not

Interesting Facts: Bad Brains are widely regarded as among the pioneers of hardcore punk, though the band’s members objected to this term to describe their music. Despite their burgeoning punk sound, the early Bad Brains, after seeing Bob Marley in concert, also delved deep into reggae music and the Rastafari movement! Originally formed as a jazz fusion ensemble under the name Mind Power, Bad Brains developed a very fast and intense punk rock sound which came to be labeled “hardcore”, and was often played faster and more emphatically than the music of many of their peers. The unique factor of the band’s music was the fact that they played more complex rhythms than other hardcore punk bands, also adapting non-punk style guitar riffs and solos into their songs.

The band developed an early reputation in Washington D.C., where they come from, due in part to the relative novelty of an entirely black band playing punk rock, but also due to their high-energy performances and undeniable talent. In 1979, Bad Brains found themselves the subject of an unofficial ban among many Washington D.C. area clubs and performance venues (later addressed in their song, “Banned in D.C.”). The band subsequently relocated to New York City.

Rock for Light is the band’s second full-length album. A previous album, ‘Bad Brains’, was released in 1982 but only on cassette, therefore making ‘Rock for Light’ Bad Brains’ first proper album. The 1991 re-issued version has some extra tracks, an altered track order, significantly different mixes and a speed increase of the master which results in a raising of the pitch by one-half step. The album contains a number of re-recorded songs from the band’s first album, Bad Brains, as well as a number of new hardcore punk and reggae tracks. On the band’s subsequent releases, they experimented with funk, soul and heavy metal.

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“The songs are short, catchy, loud, fast and intense from start to finish. The album has stood the test of time and has influenced not just the majority of the modern punk and hardcore punk bands but also bands such as Slayer and System of a Down! Cutting musicianship and politically charged, social satire, tongue-in-cheek, and sometimes hilarious lyrics fuel classic songs like ‘Chemical Warfare’, ‘Kill the Poor’, ‘Let’s Lynch the Landlord’, ‘California Über Alles’ and ‘Holiday in Cambodia’.” ~Mr. Metalised

Released in 1980 by Cherry Red Records/Alternative Tentacles
Best Songs: Chemical Warfare, California Über Alles

Interesting Facts: The photo on the front cover, showing several police cars on fire, was taken during the White Night riots of 21 May 1979, that resulted from the light sentence given to former San Francisco City Supervisor Dan White for the murder of Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk.

On March 25, 1980, Dead Kennedys were invited to perform at the Bay Area Music Awards in San Francisco to major record label artists to give the event some “new wave credibility”, in the words of the organizers. The day of the performance was spent practicing the song they were asked to play, the underground hit, ‘California Über Alles’. In typically subversive, perverse style, the band became the talking point of the ceremony when after about 15 seconds into the song, Biafra said, “Hold it! We’ve gotta prove that we’re adults now. We’re not a punk rock band, we’re a new wave band.” The band, who all wore white shirts with a big, black S painted on the front, pulled black ties from around the backs of their necks to form a dollar sign, then started playing a new song titled ‘Pull My Strings’, a barbed, satirical attack on the ethics of the mainstream music industry!

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“Progression Through Unlearning is quite simply the best Hardcore Punk album that’s been released in the last 30 years! It is a revolutionary, modern Hardcore Punk album that set the bar to unreachable heights!” ~Mr. Metalised

Released in 1997 by Victory Records
Best Songs: Zombie Prescription, Breaking and Reaching

Interesting Facts: Snapcase are known to be one of the “Big 3″ hardcore punk bands on the then-new Victory Records label, the other 2 being Earth Crisis and Strife. Progression Through Unlearning is Snapcase’s second full length album and one of Victory Records most successful releases to date.

After its release in 1997 the band set out on a summer tour, and featured performances on the Vans Warped Tour. In the fall of 1997, the band took some time off so that members could pursue education. In 1998, the band resumed touring, and was the opening band on the fall tour of the Deftones and Quicksand. In the summer of 1999 they headlined Hellfest in Syracuse, NY.

Snapcase disbanded in 2005 and most of the band members found jobs; Timothy Redmond taught AP Government, Global History, and The Turbulent Sixties at Williamsville East High School and Scott Dressler was an Assistant Professor of Economics at Villanova University. Snapcase have since reunited a few times for shows.

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Released in 1998 by KINGfisher Records
Best Songs: The Death You Deserve, Lesion

“An Expression Of Repressed Violence, although it has a metallic-hardcore punk sound, is considered by Metalised to be THE BEST BRITISH HARDCORE PUNK ALBUM EVER! This is the album that further worsened my ‘whiplash’ (as in the Metallica song) condition back in the late 90’s! For those of you who don’t know, whiplash is a neck injury that can occur during rear-end car collisions, when your head suddenly moves backward and then forward… it can also occur due to extreme HEADBANGING! This is not a joke, Mr. Metalised (the author) has a whiplash condition and Stampin’ Ground’s ‘An Expression Of Repressed Violence’ has a big part to do with that! Gee… thanks Stampin’ Ground!” ~Mr. Metalised

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Recorded in 1981-1983, Released in 1989 by Dischord
Best Songs: Out of Step, Guilty of Being White

Interesting Facts: Minor Threat had a strong influence on the hardcore punk scene, both stylistically and in establishing a “do it yourself” (DIY) ethic for music distribution and concert promotion. Their song ‘Straight Edge’ became the eventual basis of the straight edge movement. The lyrics of the song call for abstinence from alcohol and other drugs, a novel ideology for rock musicians which initially found a small but dedicated following. Another Minor Threat song ‘Out of Step’, further demonstrates the belief: “Don’t smoke/Don’t drink/Don’t fuck/At least I can fucking think/I can’t keep up/I’m out of step with the world.” At the bridge of this song (EP version), vocalist Ian MacKaye explains his philosophy of straight edge, explaining that straight edge “is not a set of rules; I’m not telling you what to do. All I’m saying is there are three things, that are like so important to the whole world that I don’t happen to find much importance in, whether it’s fucking, or whether it’s playing golf, because of that, I feel… (chorus)”. Although MacKaye clearly stated “This is not a set of rules…” an ideological door had already been opened and by 1982, some straight-edge punks were swatting beers out of people’s hands at clubs!

Minor Threat’s song ‘Guilty of Being White’ led to some accusations of racism, but MacKaye has strongly denied such intentions and said that some listeners misinterpreted his words. He claims that his experiences attending Wilson High School, whose student population was 70 percent black, inspired the song. There, many students bullied MacKaye and his friends. Slayer later covered the song, with the last iteration of the lyric “Guilty of being white” changed to “Guilty of being right.” In an interview, MacKaye stated that he was offended that some perceived racist overtones in the lyrics, saying, “To me, at the time and now, it seemed clear it’s an anti-racist song. Of course, it didn’t occur to me at the time I wrote it that anybody outside of my twenty or thirty friends who I was singing to would ever have to actually ponder the lyrics or even consider them.”

Minor Threat broke up in 1983. MacKaye stated that he did not “check out” on hardcore, but in fact hardcore “checked out”. Explaining this, he stated that at a 1984 Minutemen show, a fan struck MacKaye’s younger brother Alec in the face, and he punched the fan back, then realizing that the violence was “stupid”, and that he saw his role in the stupidity. MacKaye claimed that immediately after this he decided to leave the hardcore scene.

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Released in 1990 by American Leather Records
Best Songs: Discontent, Alan’s on Fire

Interesting Facts: Around the time Feel the Darkness was released, the band members’ drinking habits and hard living were beginning to catch up with them: the 4 band members weighed in at about 590 Kg (1,300 lb) collectively and the guitarist Tom “Pig Champion” Roberts, in particular was very fat, often having to play sitting down! In 2006 Pig Champion died aged 47 at his home in Portland of undetermined causes, although he had been suffering from the flu and an untreated kidney infection. In 2012 during a European tour, the guitarist Jerry developed a severe infection in his foot and was instructed by medical staff in Europe to return home immediately. Despite a long-standing reputation for not completing tours, the band remained in Europe for five weeks, resulting in Jerry having to have two toes and a portion of his foot removed when the band returned to the U.S.! Poison Idea has been cited as an influence by bands and musicians such as Nirvana, Turbonegro, Pantera, Napalm Death and Machine Head.

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Released in 1998 by Burning Heart
Best Songs: New Noise, Tannhäuser / Derivè
Interesting Facts: Although Refused broke up only months after the album’s release, The Shape of Punk to Come has since found an audience for the band and largely contributed to their posthumous fame, as well as inspiring many later artists in a wide range of genres. Kerrang! magazine listed The Shape of Punk to Come at #13 on their 50 Most Influential Albums of All Time list in 2003.

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