10 Definitive 80’s Hardcore Albums

A List By Tim Cundle

The 1980’s was boom time for Hardcore and Punk music, with scenes springing up all across the globe. But who were the absolute best of the best? Mass Movement’s Tim Cundle has stepped up with his take on the ten best Hardcore albums to come out of the 1980’s. In no particluar order….

Suffer – Bad Religion (1988)

A game changing record that introduced me to the band who would become an over-riding, life long obsession. Bad Religion’s triumphant “comeback” record is jaw dropping, aural orgasm that’s built around fifteen infections, instantaneous and intelligent anthems that hit hard, hit fast, bury themselves in your subconscious  and sail by in a little over twenty five minutes. Suffer defined punk rock for a generation of jaded, cynical old scenesters and continues to be the benchmark that countless bands have tried, but failed to equal. Is it the best punk rock record ever? You bet your battered old leather jacket it is…

Something To Prove – Spermbirds (1986)

The idea that music can change your life might well be over used and subscribed, but it’s one of life’s absolute and eternal truths. Something to Prove was, and is, a rush of pure punk rock adrenaline that epitomises the idea that change begins on the individual level, a philosophy that I embraced the first time I heard this record and continue to believe in. I’ve often said that the Spermbirds are my punk rock North Star, my guiding light in a  tumultuous and often difficult world, and my journey to navigate life’s trail began with this incredible record.  This record changed my life, it’ll change yours too.

Cause For Alarm – Agnostic Front (1986)

Everyone discovers punk rock and hardcore in their own way, and this album was my gateway into the scene. When it appeared in 1986, it combined the bands raw, simplistic and incredibly catchy and emotive New York hardcore with the more complex song structures of thrash metal, and was  torch bearer for the fledgling crossover movement.  It redefined what NYHC was, and opened the relatively small, at the time New York scene up to rabid fans the world over. It set the bar for NYHC, and proved what AF’s global fanbase have always known. That Vinnie Stigma, Roger Miret  and Agnostic Front are the Godfathers of Hardcore…

Rock For Light – Bad Brains (1983)

Most old punks will tell you that the ROIR tape was, and is, the definitive Bad Brains release and that the Brains were a New York band. They’re wrong. The Bad Brains will always be a DC band, and as good as the ROIR cassette is, Rock For Light is the record that established the band as an unstoppable force whose consummate musicianship and fusion of reggae and hardcore and fearsome live reputation forged a legacy that will live forever. And Rock For Light epitomises everything that the Bad Brains were, are and will always be.

Back From Samoa – Angry Samoans (1982)

While its true that FEAR were probably the most contentious and one of the most offensive, albeit in a tongue in cheek fashion, bands of the early eighties, the Angry Samoans really couldn’t have given a flying hows your father about anything or anyone. Back From Samoa is a gloriously obnoxious, insanely quick and punchy, catchier than than the clap on a Blackpool weekender album that hurtles along and flips the bird at everyone and everything. It’s an eighteen minute long classic that’s a full throttle punk rock masterpiece.

Is This My World? – Jerry’s Kids (1983)

Much as I love Gang Green. SSD and Slapshot there’s only one record from the eighties Boston scene that I could, and would happily listen to for the rest of my days and that’s Is This My World? . Every single song sounds it could descend into a maelstrom of chaos at any moment, and it’s a brutally fast, anger fuelled album that rages against the world and everything in between, and if there are three better tunes that sum up the everyday disdain for a broken system than I Don’t Belong, Build Me A Bomb and Lost, I haven’t heard them. An absolute beast of an album will still tear your face off forty years after it was released…

Break Down The Walls – Youth of Today (1986)

From the opening salvo of Make A Change and Thinking Straight to the closing barrage of Free At Last , Break Down The Walls is a straight down the line, faster than a ‘69 Charger covering a quarter mile, crammed full of breakdowns album that doesn’t let up for second and stresses the importance of positivity, friendship, free thinking and acceptance. It was, and is the blueprint for the Youth Crew sound, and serves as a testament to the pure, raw power and energy of music and how it can lift your spirit and provide direction and focus in the even the darkest moments. And that Craig Setari bassline that forms the back bone of One Family still sends shivers down my spine every time I hear it…

Rock’N’Roll Nightmare – Rich Kids ON LSD (1987)

If it wasn’t for RKL, NOFX and Lagwagon and the ‘Fat Wreck’ sound wouldn’t exist, and Rock’n’Roll Nightmare is the record that, arguably, changed the direction of the Californian scene. It was a massive leap forward for the band, and fused balls out rock and roll, high speed metal and hardcore with a level of musicality and song writing that has rarely been bettered. A lot of  folks will tell you that DRI and COC were responsible for creating the crossover scene, but that’s a big old bunch of hooey. This record, this mind blowing album was, and will always be the epitome of crossover and if RKL hadn’t been the architects of their own demise they’d probably have ended up being one of the biggest bands in world.

Hardcore ‘81 – D.O.A. (1981)

It’s no secret that I worship the ground that Joey Keithley’s band walks on, and Hardcore ‘81 is where it all started for me. And by that, I mean that is the album that made me become a certified member of the cult of D.O.A. Joey’s machine gun riffing and snarled vocals powered a genuine desire for social change are the key ingredient in D.O.A.’s urgent, energy filled sound, and Hardcore ‘81 is the sound of a band discovering who they were, and finding their own identity. It’s the best of the best and everyone needs to hear it at least once in their lifetime…

Vanishing Point – Underdog (1989)

I’m going to keep this short and sweet. Vanishing Point is, and always will be the greatest NYHC record ever released. Seamlessly fusing reggae, hardcore and a hundred different other genres of music, this record proved that HC could be anything that you, or anyone else wanted it to be. Where do you thing Mass Movement got its name from? That’s right, it was named after one of the songs on this record, and that should tell you everything that you need to know about how good this album is…

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