I recently had the opportunity to check out The Godfathers of Hardcore, a documentary about NYHC legends Agnostic Front focusing on the lives of vocalist Roger Miret and guitarist Vinnie Stigma. Of course, you can’t talk about Agnostic Front without also talking about Madball, the band fronted by Miret’s younger half-brother Freddie Cricien, which began back in 1988 with a then twelve-year-old Cricien being backed by the members of Agnostic Front.
In an effort to look beyond the digital promo pile, I recently put out a call on social media for any bands or labels that were interested in coverage to get in touch. I mostly heard crickets, but I was also lucky enough to hear from Whammer, a new “blackened crust grind” band from Colorado, who sound lean, mean and pissed the fuck off on the demo tracks they graciously sent me to check out.
Ah, the intro. This is the part where most writers attempt to regale you with an account of the myriad ups and downs they experienced throughout the year. However, most writers fail to understand one very important fundamental truth: no one cares. So without further ado and in no particular order, here’s a list of fifteen albums that grabbed a hold of my crank and kept on yankin’ in 2017…
In October of 1988, Sonic Youth released Daydream Nation, an album littered with references to the speculative cyberpunk fiction of William Gibson. While I have never read Gibson’s work (though I have seen the god-awful film adaptation Johnny Mnemonic), it is my understanding that his writing predicted many of the technological and cultural developments we now take for granted, including the ubiquitous influence of computers and the Internet on our daily lives. Just as Gibson’s writings predicted these developments in technology, so too did Daydream Nation predict developments in rock music; if there is such a thing as “speculative music,” then surely Sonic Youth’s sprawling masterpiece (and really their early career as a whole) falls squarely into this category.
For the most part, everyone already knows the scoop on American Psycho; after years of bitter legal disputes with Glenn Danzig, bassist Jerry Only was finally given the rights to record and perform under the Misfits name. Recruiting new drummer Dr. Chud and vocalist Michale Graves along with longtime guitarist/Only’s brother Doyle, the resurrected Misfits signed with Geffen records and released their first album in nearly a decade-and-a-half. End of history lesson.
Over the past several years, Jerry Only has been both lauded for keeping the Misfits alive and demonized for continuing to milk the Crimson Ghost cash-cow. To say that I’ve been skeptical of the Jerryfits would be an understatement; aside from the Project: 1950 covers album, I hadn’t checked any of the band’s post-Michale Graves discography until this year. Sure, Project: 1950 was a fun little experiment, but there was just something about Only continuing to front the band that didn’t sit well with me.
All of these album anniversaries are starting to make me feel old. But with that said, I can think of few better to celebrate than the silver anniversary of what is arguably Danzig’s masterpiece, How The Gods Kill. I can’t remember exactly what year I bought the album, but I do remember picking it up at one of the three record stores that populated the local shopping mall (ah, the good ol’ days), bringing it home and subsequently being blown away. It immediately struck me as one of the deepest, darkest albums I’d ever heard up to that point in my life, and given that I was still an impressionable teenager, I’d like to think it was one of the key albums that helped to propel me down the path of heavy music.