If punk rock lit the match, then hardcore threw that fucker into a tanker of gasoline. The grassroots, DIY movement rose with a fury in the Eighties out of underground, pissed-off, politically charged music scenes in hotbeds like New York City, Washington, D.C., Boston and SoCal — this music was harder, faster and way more aggro than what its fashion-forward studded-belt brethren had been pushing just a few years prior.
Over time the genre has established its core sound, while also evolving in the hands of boundary pushers (like new acts Turnstile, Vein, Fury and Primal Rite) that are challenging the limits of what hardcore can be — while still respecting its roots. So, what are those standard-bearing albums that best represent the pinnacle moments of hardcore? We have our favorites, but we wanted to know yours. Which is why posed to you the following question: What is the single greatest hardcore album? See what you chose in the ranked list below.
NYHC legends Gorilla Biscuits have been tearing shit up since 1987 when a group of friends who loved Agnostic Front started hanging out and decided to make their own aggressively confrontational music. With their classic self-titled EP and the hardcore staple Start Today — which featured an infectious blend of melody, chugging aggression and unbridled energy — the band established themselves as godfathers of the genre and inspired countless aspiring hardcore punk bands in the process.
Converge's 2001 album, Jane Doe, is a monstrous creative statement that pushed the boundaries of both hardcore and extreme metal. The Massachusetts legends' spastic, inimitable style and powerful stage presence have continued to gain them fans throughout their nearly 30-year career, and the projects spawned off from the core group's lineup have seeped into nearly every metal subgenre.
In a single album, Hatebreed went from a bunch of largely unknown Connecticut hardcore kids to probably one the most influential groups in any genre ending in -core for the next twenty years. Satisfaction Is the Death of Desire combines everything from Obituary's pure heaviness to the likes of NYHC luminaries Sick of It All to birth one of the most diverse albums the genre has ever seen, and a long succesful career for Jamey Jasta and his hardcore crew.
Cro-Mags' The Age of Quarrel remains a landmark for all of punk music, and a record that could only have come out of the hyper-violent and diverse New York City streets of the Eighties. Before "crossover thrash" became a true subgenre of music, Cro-Mags managed to wrangle the sounds of their surrounding scenes and bridge it into one cohesive package of insane riffing and violent energy. It's a confident, angry-as-fuck record by a band who knew they were on to something big, and it shows.
Despite their hesitance to accept the label, it's no surprise Bad Brains would top this list: they basically invented — and many say perfected — the genre. Their eponymous 1982 debut is one of the most influential albums in heavy music even today, with the inescapable cover art still showing up on the shirts and patches of fledgling punks before they've even learned to churn out three chords. Tumultuous history aside, Bad Brains will forever stand as one of hardcore's greatest acts.