Translation: “nobody cared about the records we did after this, so we’re just gonna give the kids what they want.” While it’s a bummer for them, props to Mike for admitting what is obvious. Like how all the 80s hair bands who followed up their big hit with several crappy albums that flopped, until finally they were just like “fuck it,” and settled with playing their old hits at casinos and county fairs. In the business these are called “legacy acts,” which is a nice way of saying “washed up bands who still make a nice living playing their old shit to old people in B markets and off-brand venues.”
See also the “anniversary tours” from the likes of HAWTHORNE HEIGHTS and SENSES FAIL– are we seeing the beginning of the “scene legacy acts” market develop? And where will it end? How long until ATTACK ATTACK reunites to play “Someday Came Suddenly” from start to finish at the Kitsap County Fairgrounds next to the funnel cake stand, right after SUGAR RAY’s set??
I’ve got no idea if he’s still jocked relentlessly today, but a few years ago when I would randomly troll B9, Dwid/Integrity and the Holy Terror stuff seemed to be everywhere. People would jizz themselves over a new Dwid shirt design. I’ve always heard people talk about the whole ‘Holy Terror Church of the Final Judgement’ under their breath, never really understanding whats going on. So fuck it, I’m gonna shed some light.
First off, I honestly give about zero fucks about Integrity. I, like everyone else in the hxc scene went kinda nuts over their first album “Those Who Fear Tomorrow” but even by “Systems Overload” I was off them. IDK, kinda all sounded the same to me. And even then I found myself eye-rolling over the Armenian Genocide liner notes. I remember opening the Integrity CD with the Process logo (interlinked Ps) and thinking – what the fuck is that doing there?!?, and fully understanding that I was probably one of the *very* few hxc people that knew what the hell that thing was (I can give details of *why* I knew it in the comments, if wanted).
What is the Holy Terror Church? Well, as far as I can tell from talking to people ‘close’ to those involved, it’s mostly a made up idea to lend ‘mystique’ to the Dwid/Holy Terror brand. And nothing against Dwid for doing so – good marketing I guess – but it’s just not a real thing. Even the ‘Holy Terror Church of the Final Judgement‘ and the ‘Jack Abernathy’ character are made up. I can’t say what Dwid personally believes or doesn’t, but this idea that there is this deep underground ‘church’ spreading some amorphous ‘message’ is just not real.
More interesting is where did Dwid get the ideas from? This is largely just (informed) speculation – but much of the vocabulary used seems to come straight from the writings found in the Re/Search book Industrial Culture Handbook. That book is basically an overview of 70s and 80s ‘performance artists’ (yuck), like SPK, Throbbing Gristle (more on them in a sec) and Boyd Rice. Words like ‘sonic terrorism’, ‘art as terror’, or any other crazy term you read in a Dwid interview sound like they come straight from this book.
Integrity Cover vs Psychic TV Logo
Point two is the character of Genesis P-Orridge, (co)founder of bands like Throbbing Gristle and Psychic TV, and (more importantly) rediscoverer of the Process Church. P-Orridge came across some Process Church magazines in the 70s and really embraced the design ethic of the group (jury out on how much of their teachings he absorbed). So through P-Orridge, an ‘extreme’ musician, Dwid, a professed early fan of ‘extreme’ music would have some exposure to the look/basic ideas of The Process. (FYI Throbbing Gristle is like entry level ‘extreme’/industrial noise music. And unlistenable to boot) P-Orridge’s obsession with Manson is pretty directly linked to Integrity imagery as well…
Integrity Shirt vs Psychic TV Group Shot… Similar?
So – what the hell is/was the Process Church (full name – The Process Church of the Final Judgement… hmm…) Basically, it centered around two very charismatic cast-outs from the 60s Scientology movement in London. Banned by omega-level weirdness guru L. Ron Hubbard, these two took the Scientology ‘auditing’ idea underground and formed a closed group that started living communally. They eventually moved to Mexico on some isolated sugar plantation, and had a kind of group mind-fuck where they thought God was speaking to the group, and wrote these down as ‘The Xtul Dialogs‘ (links to a 500 page terribly done PDF). Feeling they ‘had something’ the group moved to the states, drafted on some crazy Jehovah/Satan theology, opened some coffee shops and dressed in robes like insane people. Got somewhat big, had major group implosions and disappeared.. but not before they published a few issues of their magazine that was, if nothing else, very graphically advanced for it’s time. FYI – ‘Humanity is the Devil‘ was a foundational document of the Process Church…
The group went through a bunch of closures and ‘rebrandings’, eventually rejecting the Process teachings, becoming The Foundation and eventually morphed into an animal welfare group out of Utah! But luckily a few used copies of Process magazine found their way into P-Orridge’s hands and the rest is Holy Terror history… If you got questions, I’ll answer ‘em in the comments.
PS: Just noticed – in the linked PDF above, you could basically randomly pick sentences from any Process writings and sound liek a super dark Holy Terror hxc band… Fuck this shit is gold!
And when I say exactly I mean EXACTLY– this song by AMERICAN AWESOME ALLIANCE came out in September of 2014 but could easily have been on “You Can’t Spell Slaughter Without Laughter” in 2008. And maybe it’s because I’ve spent the last 2-3 years awash in floral print shoegaze tumblr soft grunge twinkledaddy 90s alt rock-worshop, but I think this is pretty fucking great.
Usually I get annoyed by stuff that is this xD, but there is something about how unabashedly shitty this is that makes me really love it– and although it is objectively shitty, at the same time you can tell they put a ton of energy into every detail, which makes it great in a South Park “worse is better” kind of way. And idk, maybe I am too old to be laughing at this kind of thing but the part at 1:20 when he eats an english muffin out of his shorts makes me giggle a lot.
And on a srs note, the lack of pretentiousness here is a very very VERY refreshing change of pace from bands who are so concerned with looking like Artists who ‘rly know their roots’ that they make fake VHS videos. IDK about you, but to me punk means “kids making whatever the fuck they want and not giving a fuck,” which makes this pretty punk in my book. Also, the breakdown at 2:00 is the most neon thing I have heard this decade– so good!
Keeping the 90′s punk aesthetic alive in 2k14 while hiding grey hairs at the same time. +1
LAGWAGON… if you’re under 25, there’s a good chance you haven’t heard of them. If you’re 25-30ish, you might know them as that band that was in one of those Tony Hawk games. If you’re over 30, you might actually like them, or at least used to. If you are aware of them but don’t follow them, you might be surprised to find out that they’re still a band and they actually released a new album this year. But I’m not going to talk about that. I’m here to discuss how they are one of the best bands of 90′s skate punk.
DUH came out way back in 1992 and it is the first album released on Fat Wreck Chords, which would soon become the main headquarters for influential 90′s skate punk bands (Propagandhi, No Use For A Name, Strung Out, yada yada). On this album, they were basically like a faster, more proficient version of Bad Religion (if they weren’t boring). I don’t think it’s their best work but it is definitely advanced for its time and a solid debut, especially by 1992 standards… what’s up with old ass bands taking like 3-4 albums to get good? I mean, look at NOFX for an example of this.
Their sophomore album TRASHED was released in 1994, AKA “the year punk broke into the mainstream” (via Green Day and The Offspring) and it is among some of their best material in my opinion. The intensity and emotion in this song is unmatched by most in the genre. This song also features guest vocals from Fat Mike of NOFX. Not sure why guest vocal features are so rare in punk (although they’ve become a lot more common in recent years). Buffy the Vampire Slayer sample = 90′s as fuck.
Know It All is definitely one of their best songs. The lyrics are about those annoying trendy music elitists that everyone in any sort of music scene has come across before and the message is still so relevant today. This song is well known for being featured on the first Fat Wreck Chords compilation “Fat Music For Fat People”. Punk compilations were a big thing in the 90′s and pretty much the #1 way for discovering new bands.
Hoss is considered by many to be their best album. I’m not sure I agree with this, but it is such a great album that it doesn’t really matter. The whole “starting off slow and soft and then abruptly transitioning into fast and furious” thing later became a common theme in Lagwagon songs (see: Alien 8, Never Stops, and Burn).
The awkward height difference between the singer and guitarist always made for a funny visual.
Their fourth album “Double Plaidinum” was kind of a dud and is one of their least popular. They made it after a lineup change (new guitarist + drummer) so maybe they were adjusting to that and it effected the quality, although I’m not quite sure who did most of the songwriting. A lot of the album sounds kind of uninspired but “Making Friends” is a classic Lagwagon song and one of my favorite songs ever.
The title/album art almost makes up for the lack of memorability in the music. Simple yet ingenious.
“Let’s Talk About Feelings” is quite possibly their magnum opus. This song has so many great melodies and twists and turns via unpredictable chord progressions, all while maintaining a fast-paced tempo (speed + melodies are the 2 key ingredients to skate punk).
Of course, May 16 (also known as the Tony Hawk song) is their “big hit” and is one of the greatest songs ever made in any genre imo. It is uplifting, beautiful, and epic. Definitely a timeless classic.
Even their post-90′s material has some gems in it, like this song about them being washed up. I feel like lots of 90′s punk bands either only wrote jokey songs (see: Guttermouth) or had 100% srs songs but Lagwagon had a nice balance between the two and were masters of both styles.
This EP they released in 2008 is among some of their worst material but the title displays god tier accuracy and self-awareness. So amazing.
What do you think about Lagwagon? Were they good enough to compete with NOFX for the 90′s skate punk throne? Are they old enough at this point to be filed in the category of “dad punk”? Were they probably old enough to be filed in that category 8-10 years ago?
Big shout-outs to Luke Marshall for making this. I’ll go over some of the lesser known bands on the chart to familiarize you guys with them.
3. Set The Pace – Classic (MKTO cover)
This song is GOD TIER and easily the best cover this year in my opinion. Nice chunky guitar tone with super strong vocals. That heavy part at 1:44 = #ezcrab eargasm.
4. Crunkasaurus Rex – Cheers To The Years
I know Sarge posted about these guys not too long ago, but I just want to reiterate how amazing they are. Definitely one of the most advanced newcomer bands.
5. No! Not The Bees! – Self Respect
To be honest, I had no idea who these guys were but they sound pretty solid. I’m loving the synth that comes in at 1:00.
7. Anchors To Anchors – Keep Your Friends Close
I’ve known about these guys for a while and they’re super sick so I’m glad I’ve finally posted them on here. They’re kinda like Chunk without the lulzy French accent.
8. Heavyweight – Fool’s Gold
I’ve also known about these guys for a minute and they’re super dope. The guitarists have the technical proficiency to be in a metal band but instead they use their powers for good (top tier ez) and not evil (lame djent shit).
Ronnie might not look like a hot scene chick anymore, but this could have easily been an outtake from “Dying Is Your Latest Fashion.” Can’t wait for kids to start paying top dollar for used Sidekicks in an attempt to recreate 2007 in 2015!
As much as the Noisey/NPR/Burning Fight crowd would like you to believe that PROPAGHANDI, FUGAZI and REFUSED were the torchbearers of 90s hardcore, that’s just not true. There is one and only one truly defining face of 90s hardcore, and that is VICTORY RECORDS. Like it or not, nobody else put out more influential or popular hardcore records than Victory, and in this post I will set the record straight about the only 90s hardcore label that REALLY mattered by breaking down their roster into two categories: the bands people cared about, and the ones nobody cared about (note, this may shatter the image of 90s hardcore that 19 year olds on instagram seem to have in their heads).
THE BANDS PEOPLE CARED ABOUT
This group can basically be summed up in the lineup of “The California Takeover,” a live album that Victory put out in 1996, recorded at the Whiskey. These are “the big three,” period– although as you will see from some of these videos, when I say that “people cared about these bands,” I am talking about a very small group of people. 90s hardcore was just not a big community, and I am sure 80s hardcore was even smaller. In any case, here are the big dogs, ranked in order of their popularity at the time:
I have mentioned this before, but I think it’s weird how Kids These Days don’t care about SNAPCASE. They were the biggest hardcore band of the 90s, a good margin bigger than EARTH CRISIS from what I could tell. More accessible, no politics, and the guys in the band weren’t nearly as weird. That said, note that the “show” in this video is literally in a bowling alley (note the wood panelling) and that there are probably 75 people at most there. In any case, this 7″ fucking rips and has one of my favorite snare tones of all time.
And in the #2 spot we had EARTH CRISIS, who have actually remained pretty relevant after all these years. And good for them: great guys, great records, and I still think this song is awesome. For my money “Destroy The Machines” is the better record, but you really can’t underestimate the impact that this 7″ had on hardcore– they literally invented the chug breakdown as we know it today.
And coming in at #3, Los Angeles’ STRIFE. I think it’s kind of weird that kids now aren’t more into this band, because not only are they still active but their new shit DESTROYS– exactly the same style as their 90s material but better in ever way (check out “Witness A Rebirth” if you like Real Hardcore– nobody does it better than STRIFE).
The #4 slot belongs to BLOODLET, who are imo probably the single most under-rated 90s hardcore band. It is baffling to me that people don’t absolutely worship this band, especially the Decibel/Vice/etc crowd who should be totally into this. In addition to being waaaaaaaay ahead of the curve in terms of doing the “weird sludgey stoner shit” thing, they were on a totally different level than any other 90s band as musicians. Charlie King is one of my favorite drummers of all time, and the drum sound on this record is absolutely perfect.
And in #5 there is INTEGRITY. They were pretty popular in that people were stoked on “Humanity Is The Devil,” but they hardly ever toured so that kind of held them back. Again, note how tiny the crowds are in this video– and we can assume that they cherrypicked the most IMPRESSIVE crowds they could for this (probably at the old Peabody’s, where Integ played like once a year).
THE BANDS NOBODY CARED ABOUT
You will see a lot of bands who are Instagram-popular with Real Hardcore/Fake Real Metal kids on this list. And please note, I am not saying these bands are bad by any means (most of them rip), it’s just that at the same, nobody really cared about them. To put it in perspective, they were probably about as popular in their prime as CITY LIGHTS were in 2009.
The perfect example of “instagram-popular band in 2014 that nobody gave a shit about in the 90s” was BURIED ALIVE. As you can see from the turnout at this show, they were pretty much just another local/regional band (I like the kid with the mohawk who probably came to see his friend’s awful local punk band open the show). Now don’t get me wrong, their album and demo are sick, but they were not popular at all as I am certain Vogel would tell you today.
See also ALL OUT WAR. Also a great band, also met with indifference by the scene. Here they are playing on the floor of a sub shop in Toledo or something terrible like that. I remember booking a show at a VFW hall with AOW, OVERCAST and CANDIRIA in like 98 or 99 and maybe 25 people came. I think CANDIRIA wanted a $400 guarantee which we thought was absolutely ridiculously high.
You probably don’t know it, but DEADGUY are the missing link between 90s hardcore and modern metalcore. They invented the style of weird, chuggy discordant riffing that is basically the foundation of today’s metalcore, NORMA JEAN ripped them off, and presto, a whole generation of bands was born. And as Ben Weinman will tell you, DILLINGER ESCAPE PLAN was founded as an attempt and doing DEADGUY better than DEADGUY. But outside of a few weirdos in the NJ/NY/PA area, nobody in the 90s really gave a shit about them. Doesn’t seem like kids now do either, which is a shame.
And of course HATEBREED. It’s really not quite accurate to say nobody cared about them, because this album sold really well and they did have a following, but even BLOODLET was more popular than HATEBREED in the 90s. Also, if ur one of those “im only 19 but i think 90s hardcore is the best and ‘Satisfaction’ is the best HATEBREED album” type, please kill urself now. Signed, a guy with a “SMASH YOUR ENEMIES” tattoo.
And last but not least, let’s all enjoy a laugh at the expense of BABY GOPAL, who were maybe the single lamest bands in all of 90s hardcore. They were a Hare Krishna alt rock band fronted by Ray Cappo’s wife, and the results were as bad as you would expect. Actually, this is somehow even worse than I remembered it being. The kind of stuff that makes the bad SSD and DYS albums seem positively dignified by comparison.
Well there you have it– your comprehensive guide to the REAL heart of 90s hardcore, VICTORY RECORDS! Thoughts??