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Sheer Terror's contributions to the New York hardcore canon can't go overlooked. The band, fronted by the inimitable character Paul Bearer, broke out during the latter half of the 1980s with a sound that had more in common with the mean, caustic punk of early NYHC than the youth-crew and crossover thrash sounds of the day.
The early Sheer Terror demos were uncompromising in their anger and attitude, and the slate of full-length albums that would follow in the coming years — Just Can't Hate Enough, Ugly and Proud, Thanks Fer Nuthin, etc. — crystallized their uniquely sneering, stompy, wring-your-fuckin'-neck sound.
To this day, Sheer Terror continue to tour worldwide, and their loyal frontman remains a beloved — and proudly outspoken — figure in the hardcore idiom. Bearer is also a scholar of the genre's early years, and he recently told Revolver about his 11 favorite releases in all of hardcore history. See his picks below.
That album destroys. It's just heavy as shit and just fucking destroys everything as far as I'm concerned. I love the early Poison Idea stuff, but this album was just like a kick in the fucking face.
The stuff before that, Kings of Punk, of course that's a great album. Then the other, whatever the other one's called [War All the Time], it's more of a thrash-metal record.
And then they put a couple of EPs that were fucking great. And the Discontent single was like, "holy shit." That thing was brutal. And then this album came out. We're like, "Whoa."
I was like, there is no contender other than this one. There really isn't. Who's going to beat this? The production on it, the songwriting, everything on that record is just fucking stellar.
And they're all fucking drugged-up fuckups and shit [at this time]. That's why two of them are dead. I'm really good friends with Jerry [A.], the singer. We talk all the time.
It's funny. We come from this whole crazy fucking background, and now we're at the point where I send him bread that I bake, and he sends me jams that he makes.
I love Jerry to death. Poison Idea are probably my favorite hardcore band.
That's just an amazing fucking record. What is it? Twenty-seven minutes long I think?It may be shorter. It's ridiculously short.
The songs are fucking great. The energy, the attitude. As much as I think Keith Morris is a prick now, that record is just great fucking hardcore. It's right there. You want early Eighties hardcore? Put that record on. That's it.
When Henry [Rollins] joined Black Flag, I thought... I mean, Dez [Cadena] was my favorite singer. But when Henry joined Black Flag, they were fucking monsters.
They came out and destroyed the stage. They were fucking great. They were great, especially when he first joined.
And then when they got boring later on —I don't know what the fuck they were doing. It didn't do nothing for me. But Damaged, that was a great time. That was a great time to be a hardcore punk back then with Damaged.
That thing, when it came out it just scared the hell out of you because there was nothing else like it. It was brutal, noisy, distorted screaming and yelling.
And the imagery with all the war pictures and the dead people and stuff. It scared the fuck out of you. Especially being a kid. Like, whoa. What the hell? This guy's screaming about dying and war.
It's what we were waiting for. Back then we were waiting for the bombs to drop. They're going to kill us all, and that's what we were waiting for. Bands like Discharge and Crass, what do you do when that happened? Dress in black and die screaming. What else are you going to do?
But that record, the Why EP, is hard as shit and scary. Scary.
It's a hardcore punk record, but it's got a lot of great pop sensibilities to it, lyrically and also musically. And just something about them.
Like, the Descendants, their first EP —I didn't really like all that poppy shit or whatever. But something about this band. They could write a song with a good hook. It grabbed you. That's why I like it.
If you want to call it pop-punk, you could call it pop-punk. But I wouldn't call it that because it's a little harder, a little dirtier. It's punk rock with a lot of good pop sensibilities.
Lyrically it's just being a fucked-up young kid. Something you can easily relate to. And also dipping into politics, which really they had no business doing back then, but we did anyway.
That LP is a great LP. Something Better Change is a great album as well. But Hardcore '81 is a great album.
You've got "My Old Man's a Bum." I love that fucking song. It's great hardcore. It just really is. And it's great songwriting. Joey Shithead is a great lyricist and vocalist.
He's a pisser to watch, the head-bobbing thing he does. They were great. I haven't seen them in years. I always hope they're still out there plugging away. They were a great fucking band.
That's another great record. Great songwriting. It's hard. I wouldn't say it's heavy, but it's a hard record. Great songwriting. A lot of good melodies in that record, but still punk. Not pop, but punk.
The playing on it is great. The musicianship on it is great. It's not [virtuosic] or whatever, but it's just a great performance. It's just a really good record. It's very catchy, and if you listen to it, it flows. It flows really well.
It goes to the Void side. The Faith side's OK. Alec MacKaye could never keep time singing. He was always out of time. It's charming in its own way, but the Void side is fucking, that's just nuts.
Void were great. They were a crazy fucking band. It's the music. Just nuts. It's like, how are you guys playing? I don't know if they even knew half the time what they were playing.
"Let's just do this. Is it hardcore? Is it punk? I don't know." It's fucking crazy. I love it. It's making me want to punch things. You know?
I think that record's a great time capsule for back then, that era. D.C. had a good thing going on back then. That sound, it brings back a lot of good memories for me. Listening to those records and feeling excited. This is for me, you know what I mean?
I'm fucking in my 50s now. So I don't know if I'm so much looking for that. I just listen to what I listen to. But back then, to put on a record, to see a band, I'd feel like this is for me. Whether they got you or not, whether you understood what they were saying or not, it was just the feeling. Something was there.
It made you feel good. You didn't feel like a freak. You didn't feel like a weirdo. You didn't feel like a jerk. You Because we were all freaks. We were jerks anyway. You know? So yeah, that record. A lot of good memories from that record.
With those tracks it was fucking brutal, phenomenal. Fast creating fucking stupid kid shit. The Gang Green tracks are the best tracks on the compilation, as far as I'm concerned. It's just crazy shit. I love it.
I like Jerry's Kids. Don't get me wrong. I like that. FU's, I never really got into. I thought they were OK. I saw them once or twice. Whatever. They were all right.
Jerry's Kids I like, but the Gang Green stuff I think it's just crazy. It's fucking bananas.
That record is just fucking stellar. It's a stellar record. The musicianship of that record. What was the oldest guy in the band? Like maybe 20 when that record came out?
And the musicianship, it's phenomenal. Phenomenal. And the songwriting and everything. That came out and I bought the record. Like, whoa. I was kind of taken aback. I was expecting more crazy, fast, whatever. Screaming and yelling. And that came on, and it's, this is really quality songwriting. I was not expecting from a bunch of kids.