Sunday Old School: New York Hardcore Legends Agnostic Front
For many people, when they think of hardcore, the first place they think of is New York. And with good reason too, the N.Y.H.C. scene is perhaps one of the most well known in the world of heavy music, right up there with the Bay Area thrash scene. New York has produced dozens of hardcore bands that have gone on to become legends in the field and the now sadly defunct CBGBs club hosted more hardcore shows than a Red Light district in Amsterdam. One of the absolute top dogs from the New York scene, is a band that has been around longer than most and arguably played CBGBs more than anyone, Agnostic Front.
Agnostic Front was formed by guitarist Vinnie Stigma, formerly of The Eliminators in 1980 and went through a few singers before settling on Roger Miret, himself the former bassist of The Psychos. Before long, the band recruited bass player Adam Moochie and drummer Ray Barbieri (aka Raybeez) on drums and released their debut EP, "United Blood" in 1983. The EP was well received by fans and the group recorded their first full length, "Victim In Pain" soon after, releasing it in 1984. The album pushed them to the top of the New York hardcore scene and earned them a tour with Scotish hardcore act, The Exploited.
Agnostic Front then struggled for a little while with lineup changes. Though Miret and Stigma had remained constant members, a revolving door of bassists and drummers frequently halted the band's progress. Eventually, they were able to record a second album in the form of "Cause For Alarm," which was released in 1986 and featured contributions from Carnivore frontman Peter Steele (later of Type O Negative fame,) as well as dabbling in the crossover thrash sound which had been made popular by bands such as Suicidal Tendencies and Stormtroopers Of Death. More lineup changes followed but this didn't stop the group from releasing another album the next year entitled, "Liberty And Justice For..." Whilst this album still contained some metal influenced guitar solos, the overall sound discarded much of the thrash from "Cause For Alarm" and sounded more like stripped down punk rock. Although the album did not sell as well as previous releases, Agnostic Front were able to tour Europe for the first time soon after, though Miret was unable to join them as he had been incarcerated on drug charges. While in prison, he wrote much of the lyrics for the band's next album, "One Voice," which was released in 1992 and featured guest appearances from members of Sick Of It All and Madball. Soon after the album's release however, Agnostic Front decided to call it a day and signed out with a show at CBGBs, which was subsequently released as a live album entitled, "Last Warning."
Luckily for hardcore fans, the band weren't gone for long, as Miret and Stigma decided to bring Agnostic Front back in 1996. The band signed to Epitaph Records not long after and released their "comeback" album, "Something's Gotta Give" in 1998. The album featured a more street punk/Oi! sound and was co-produced by Stormtroopers Of Death frontman Billy Milano, in addition to featuring backing vocals from Murphy's Law frontman Jimmy Gestapo and Rancid members Tim Armstrong and Lars Frederikson. They quickly followed this release with the 1999 album, "Riot, Riot, Upstart," with which they won an MTV award for the title track's music video. Both of these albums have since sold well and been positively received from both critics and fans. Although they released another album in 2001 entitled, "Dead Yuppies" the band sees it as more of a product of bassist Jimmy Colletti's side bands, and as such, rarely perform songs from the album live. The band's next album wouldn't be released until 2005 and saw a dramatic change in direction. "Another Voice" was regarded as the sequel to "One Voice" but contained a much more metallic hardcore sound, similar to bands such as Hatebreed and Earth Crisis, which was not what many fans expected, leading to some criticism of the album. The band continued this formula on their most recent album, 2007's "Warriors," which featured the minor hit "For My Family." At present, the band are on tour in Europe but they are expected to record and release a new studio album shortly, which could possibly be released by the end of the year, just in time to celebrate thirty years of hard work and a dominant place in the world of hardcore.
Agnostic Front - "Crucified"
Agnostic Front - "Gotta Go"
Agnostic Front - "For My Family"
Agnostic Front - "Victim In Pain/Public Assistance"
Ollie Hynes has been a writer for Metal Underground.com for four years and has been a metal fan for ten years, going so far as to travel abroad for metal shows.
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