Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Review #106: Agnostic Front - Victim in Pain (1984)


Year: 1984
Genre: Punk Rock
Label: Rat Cage Records

15 Minutes (Short)
My Rating:

Agnostic Front formed in the streets of New York City in 1980. As one of the early members of the New York hardcore scene, the band consisted of a group of skinheads; Vinnie Stigma, Diego, and Rob Krekus. Later on, they were able to find a proper vocalist for their band in Roger Miret. In 1983, the band released its first EP, called "United Blood". This was their second release and their first LP, and it's the most demonstrative of their original hardcore sound. Later on, the band would begin to play thrash metal, and then they changed their sound yet again to street punk by the late '90s when they reformed. While New York was the birthplace of punk, they received hardcore a bit later than California or Washington DC. While the Californians went off about Reagan and partied, and the D.C. punks sang about social and political problems, New York hardcore was based around the troubles of street life and poverty. These sort of situations plagued the members of Agnostic Front, so much of the lyrics to this album are about that.

1. Victim in Pain
Starts with a single stroke of a chord and beat of a drum, like a punch in the face to ignite a fight. The verses are fast, and the chorus is slow. The drumming is real furious! Roger starts asking why he's going insane. But nobody ever tells him. Maybe he should go ask someone else. Less than a minute long.

2. Remind Them
A song about the oppression of the working class. The song's lyrics are about the need to "remind them" (the ruling class) that the capitalist system does not fulfill the needs of the poor. The vocals here are pretty cool, they sort of go upwards one moment and then descend downwards the next. The song iz fast. For some reason I love the line "remind them they taught us to lie."

3. Blind Justice
This one's about the injustice of the legal system to the poor. The song's very fast in the first half, and then slow in the second half. The riff is really awesome in the second half. "We need justice for ALL OF US", proclaims Roger. One of my favorite songs on the album.

4. Last Warning
Another great one. The verse is slow, and the vocals are so fucking intense. The chorus is fast as fuck, in a great way. The riff is just classic, here. It manages to be very angry and intense while catchy in a strange way as well.

5. United and Strong
Starts out as fast as the chorus section of "Last Warning". Y'know, those really fast beats. The second half is slower. "NO! NO HOPE!" is triumphantly shouted, as the chords ascend. Roger starts going on about there being unity for blacks and whites, punks and skin[head]s, etc.

6. Power
It's about fighting the "Power", which is described as "an anti-social fascist regime". Roger yells "STIGMA!", and on command, he whips out a pretty good solo. End of Side 1, childrenz.

7. Hiding Inside
First half is fast, second half is slow. The song calls for people to be themselves instead of conforming to an idealized image.

8. Fascist Attitudes
Awesome verse riff! This song criticizes "Fascist Attitudes" in the punk scene itself, in which people criticize eachother for simply looking or acting different than themselves. Still very relevant. "Remember we're a minority, and every one of us counts".

9. Society Sucker
This song is really fucking fast, like "Last Warning" and "United and Strong". The chorus is slow with a truly awesome riff. It criticizes the many "Society Suckers" of the world, who want to live like the rich and go out and be a big-shot like everyone else does even though they have nothing, risking the money they have left to try to climb the social ladder.

10. Your Mistake
There's not a ton I can say about this song that I've already said... fast/slow/fast, it's about getting pissed off at mainstream society. This song was later re-recorded for their 1986 album, "Cause for Alarm".

11. With Time
The longest and slowest song (over two minutes long). The bassline is very ominous and cool. Roger's voice is very echo-y, here. "Feel confused, lonely at the moment" -- sums up the general vibe of this song. It's like feeling lost, in an echo-y, dark, lonely dungeon of nothingness.

Like many hardcore bands of the early '80s, Agnostic Front eventually moved on to heavy metal. Not to say that the stuff after this was totally non-punk, but this and "United Blood" are their only records with a pure, raw hardcore sound. Agnostic Front released many more albums in the mid '80s until the early '90s... they broke up in 1993. They re-formed in 1997, with new street punk sound, which, unfortunately, is strongly inferior to their earlier work and resembles half the stuff that Epitaph Records has been putting out for the last ten years. This, however, feels very powerful and full of youthful rage. It's a good record. So, stay legit and listen to good music! Seeya!

Top 3 Favorites:
1. Last Warning
2. Society Sucker
3. Blind Justice

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