Selections from Hardcore Punk

A genre of music often excluded from public awareness or misrepresented as mindless, loud music is Hardcore Punk (“Hardcore”). I attribute my life to the music, as it helped me temper this world and helped me find the strength and fellowship to push on during my darkest moments. So for me, Hardcore is more than mere music, but psalms, moving me to passionate states of energy and awareness. Listening to good hardcore is not an idle experience, but a cathartic and creative one.  If you tire of the superficial, robotic, decadent, immoral music of the radio and are looking for true words screamed from the heart to inspire and get you fired up hardcore may be for you.

While I listened to a great deal more hardcore in my earlier years, I still find myself returning to key bands as I get older, as their music and words have had such an impact on my character. Like visiting an old teacher or a great work of philosophy in order to renew the teachings, I visit the virtuous leaders of the punk community. Therein is one of the only places I don’t feel alone. This list includes the albums and bands which “stick out” to me over the years.

Bane

Bane was one of the first bands promoting a Straight Edge lifestyle who also tried to make rather than burn bridges to the popular hardcore crowd, by returning to universal lyrical themes of the utmost immediacy and importance. Bane is one part confessional and one part love song to brothers in arms. Hearing the vocals immediately makes me want to sing along as a profoundly powerful wave of nostalgia sets in.

“Place in the Sun” off It All Comes Down To This (1999)

Would you believe that the last time these skinned knees healed
It no longer amazed me like it used to and I hate to say it but…
Things they suddenly made a simple kind of sense
The horror, the mad ness, the helplessness of it all
That there is indeed beauty as well as blood
In life’s ocean of disasters
These shattered dreams and dead promises
Will not stand forever like graves
But one day grow legs and slowly walk away
In between the tornadoes and stomped on untrue love letters
There will be those shining gentle moments
Like the last page in your favorite book or
How badly I miss my mother
But how much I’ve come to love my father
And you scream that it’s been forever since
You witnessed blue skies
But trust me when I say that yes
This too will pass
It will quiet
Literally nothing stays the same
Just look to the clouds and you shall see
Always changing forever moving on again and again
Life’s one worthwhile guarantee

“Both Guns Blazing” off Holding This Moment (1998)

I can’t believe how tightly
you can shut your eyes
Mouth open wide your words say more
than any text book could
I’ve never seen nothing
take up so much space
Your wisdom rings hollow
It’s just some shit that your drunk father
nailed into your head when you were ten
He stomped on your mind
You could not bridge the gap
between you and me
Some things are better left unsaid
But I can’t just smile – nod my head when
I should be screaming – Screaming at the sun
So I waste my time beating my head
against brick fucking walls
Sharing words with you
With you

Shai Hulud

My first love. Some of the most moving words ever recorded; ambrosia to those who are besieged. While the first albums in Shai Hulud’s discography focused on emotive outpourings laced with protestations against corruption, That Within Blood Ill-Tempered saw the band mature into a visionary, heroic platform for rebirth.

“Solely Concentrating on the Negative Aspects of Life” from Hearts Once Nourished With Hope And Compassion (1997)

A discontent for the vile and the wretched
Will bring forth reparations of the most severe degree
Things will change
And I will be the catalyst to
Weed out the weak and beget strength of character
Glorifying minds and souls
Celebrate the spirit while denying breath and life
To those who would choose to live depraved
Depravity, a thing of the past
A life not in vain
I am the end, I am beginning life anew
My soul is free from weakness
Free
Refined as gold
A standard to be met by all
As we embrace righteousness, we embrace life
Purified, united. set aside from the majority
I will serve as an example to man as hope
By defending those I love with my life
I stand here bold and strong
As a testament to my abstinence
My heart is open; this slate is clean.

“Let Us At Last Praise The Colonizers Of Dreams” from That Within Blood Ill-Tempered (2003)

Without pretension.
With a sweet chill down my spine…

For a time the clouds lift. And what I have resigned to thinking barren
Does bear fruit.
~
If I am to die – If I must die.
I must inspire while I live,
Alongside the dreamers.

Let us at last praise the colonizers of dreams.
~
I surrender all. All I have give:

To those who survived life’s thorns
And provided escape.
To those, whose creations live forever.
To those that wrote the words.
Though my knees become weak.
I will cause my foot another step.
To carry the task.
And to those that understood

There is a need for faith
And a need for hope.

Let us at last praise the colonizers of dreams.
~
As with the brightest and the wisest,
I know the need of
Faith,
Hope,
And
Dreams.

I burn for visions and inspiration, for this is life.

If perchance I am dreaming,
Please, let me sleep,

To spend my time in great Atlantis,
In search of Camelot.
I drink from the grail, and war with the immortals,
Rather than suck in the ruins of a fallen sky castle.
~
Amidst the remnants of once
Mighty Colossus.
Comes this call:
Where are the builders?

I clearly see the slayers and the hope they destroy.
I clearly see the thieves, and the wonders they deprive the inspired.

Where are the builders?
~
If I am to die – If I must die.
I must inspire while I live.
Alongside the dreamers.

“Being Exemplary” from That Within Blood Ill-Tempered (2003)

and this is what shall come to pass.
a new precept for the world to adopt.
and this is what the children shall learn…

prepare for the lowest standard.
rough diamonds in the palms of fools
unable to give the crucial gift of reason.

the unwise teaching wisdom.
the absurd defining priority.
fools, unable to give the crucial gift of reason.

what more can be expected of a child,
being a product of the stark worst –
its fathers blood.

censure rightly;
make no mistake.
the ascendants,
they are veritably criminal.

fare thee well
down the random path of chance.

godspeed.

set sail,
against the wind,
under the misguiding light of faulty beacons.

set sail,
against the wind,
with vices for virtues,
dishonor for ethics,
and excess for etiquette,
as examples –

such sorry examples.

and what of the children…

ignorant of it’s weight.
blind to it’s worth.

something is terribly amiss
when the beauty and the miracle of new life
is nothing but a burden.

this burden is a life
this burden is a child.

men without dedication
speaking of truth and loyalty.
women without conviction
teaching respect and compassion.

no.

and what of the children…

Strongarm

While I am by no means a Christian the pure passion and heart that goes into these words cannot be matched. And even if I don’t carry a card which signifies me as a Christian – I still believe in something greater than myself, in right and wrong, in service and in goodness. I believe in living for something. Accordingly Strongarm is one of my favorite hardcore bands.

“The Advent of a Miracle” from The Advent of a Miracle (1997)

You’re my beloved and all together lovely
As a gift that can’t be bought, as if gold could favor outweigh
Your meaning to me, the secrets of the heart made manifest
Even beauty’s priced beside thee, proportioned by lot the less

Wishes fade, dreams break, promise made

Takes away your will, takes your whole heart captive
Just for one promise, sell it all for one true word
To hold on to, face the shame of it all
Safer to neglect, than open your callused heart

Piece by piece, you have lost a part of your self
You share to gain but lose at love and learn to hate yourself
More and More each day and all the days thereafter
They labor to put back together and regain what is gone forever

Wishes fade, as dreams break, promise made, tomorrow takes

The most costly mistake is to try to change the past today
The filth and the shame, they all wash away
For you Christ will clean the slate

Only love can fill the void, when the world has taken it’s toll
Hand in hand, by your side, we’ll walk down this path together
I’ll take you to the place where promises will never break

To the advent
To the advent
To the advent of a miracle

True love is to die for and is why I cry, for you
And the pain you feel and feed can heal
If you’d just walk with me toward the light

“These Times That Try Men’s Souls” from The Advent of a Miracle (1997)

This is all that I believe
To bear witness to my calling

My life escapes me, my days they shorten
These final breaths to testify

To face these years is adversity in itself
Calm passed long ago to revel times foretold
Before is the open book another page, pieces fall into place
Take heed to discern the times, of the signs

These times that try men’s souls

Whereby we know, this life is like a shadow
And assuredly death shall stand to greet the soul
The years, they’ve coursed the storm that’s been uprising
Since the days of old building, and now approaching

He sees not his shadow, who faces the sun
For his eyes burn and melt as wax
The price paid for living in light
Is that of gold in the crucible

Ever melting, straining, striving, to be made pure
Purity escapes me, remembrance breaks me down

Though my knees become weak, I will cause my foot another step to carry the task
Bleeds my hands but, they are kept, remembrance breaks me down
But I will survive until it is the last time

American Nightmare

Dark stuff – American Nightmare offers scant positive words for the future, instead injecting as much pain and trauma into the spoken word as possible in an attempt to escape it.  Yet never has music sincerely expressed what it feels like to be a sober, self-respecting person and live in a world like this better than American Nightmare. There is no censorship, no attempts at pretending loftier themes, just raw pain and fury unbottled and spewed out. Lyricist Wes Eisold’s words are some of the only ones I can relate to when I kill the lights and listen to the rain fall.

I could find any good videos of songs of this band on YouTube, buy/read Background Music (2001).