Though hardcore never completely disappeared, it spent plenty of time in the wilderness before its resurgence the last half-dozen years. The same might be said of Agnostic Front, bellwether of hardcore's New York strain, purveying a gritty, no-nonsense, in-your-face style that echoed the grimy combativeness of their '80s environs.
Their seminal '84 full-length debut, Victim in Pain, assails society's norms, injustice and conformity raging through 11 paeans to alienation in 15 minutes. Thrash and metal wielded increasing influence as the '80s wore on, concluding with lead singer Roger Miret going to jail for 18 months after being caught couriering drugs. Within a year of Miret's release, the band called it quits, though they reformed four years later in '96, excising the metal influences and returning to the original high-throttle hardcore attack.
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The quintet's maintained the faith for 15 years now, churning through six albums and numerous members — aside from mainstays Miret and flame-throwing founding guitarist Vinnie Stigma. Though there's nothing particularly sophisticated about their sound, it's consistently delivered with spirit, fervor and chunky precision that (from a purely musical standpoint) improves on their groundbreaking start, helping establish them (with Sick of It All) as the preeminent exemplars of old-school East Coast hardcore.