Remember when hardcore was more than artfully tousled black hair and tasteless bandanas? Yes, it’s true–there was a time when the aggressive genre catered to an ideology before a fashion statement, before Henry Rollins became a household name and punk rock wasn’t featured in regular timeslots on MTV.
The accompanying soundtrack to the documentary of the same name, American Hardcore is a steel-toe-to-the-tender-bits reminder that there was a reason why early ’80s hardcore achieved the mass underground popularity it did. With bands like Black Flag, Minor Threat, Bad Brains, and the Adolescents all featured on the compilation, the album paints a comprehensive picture of the genre. Even DOA, the Shithead-fronted Vancouver outfit responsible for introducing hardcore punk to Canada, finds a comfortable home on American Hardcore.
True to form, this album is full of gritty productions values, an abundance of distortion, and fast, short tracks that waste few words getting their point across. Therein lies the beauty of the early hardcore song: with the message undiluted by the emphasis on image and marketable appeal found in later hardcore/thrash/anything-core, the focus is entirely on the music. The figurative crap is cut.