Top 20 Hardcore Albums in History: 20-11 | West Coast Sound | Los Angeles | Los Angeles News and Events | LA Weekly

Top 20 Hardcore Albums in History: 20-11

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Tue, Aug 27, 2013 at 3:30 AM

click to enlarge BAD BRAINS
  • Bad Brains
By 1980, the writing was on the wall: Punk rock might have been making headlines, but it wasn't moving units. The industry responded with the skinny tie bands, retroactively labeled New Wave, a safer, more accessible take on the back-to-basics energy of punk. The street reacted by buzzing its collective head, throwing out the fashion designers and putting the musicians in the driver's seat. The result was a rawer, tougher, more stripped down form of punk known as hardcore. Walter Schreifels of Gorilla Biscuits once called it "American folk music." Here are the 20 best albums of the genre. -Nicholas Pell

See also:

Top 20 Hardcore Albums in History: 10-1

Top 20 Greatest L.A Punk Albums

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20. At the Drive-In

Relationship of Command


With their acclaimed 2000 release Relationship of Command, Texan golden boys At The Drive-In did the impossible -- they created a crossover hardcore album nearly anyone could enjoy. With trippy, complex guitar work and powerful vocals courtesy of frontman Cedric Bixler-Zavala, Relationship of Command was the north star for post-hardcore bands that followed. Led by single "One Armed Scissor," which received immense MTV and radio play at the time, the album would go on to become one of the year's most beloved, in any genre. -Zach Bourque

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19. Fucked Up

Chemistry of Common Life


Opening with a flute, The Chemistry of Common Life features volatile rockers Fucked Up pushing punk rock to the limit. Antagonistic lyrics ("It's hard enough being born in the first place / Who would ever want to be born again?") are combined with nearly 70 (!) instrumental tracks per song, making for one of the most ambitious hardcore records in memory. The Toronto natives work even won the 2009 Polaris Music Prize -- the Canadian equivalent of the Album of the Year. -Daniel Kohn

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18. Rites of Spring



Guy Picciotto fronting Rites of Spring while Ian MacKaye manned the production at Inner Ear Studios was kind of like a bizzaro world version of Bowie and Eno in Berlin--except it was D.C. and there were fewer drugs and the whole world wasn't watching. Picciotto has repeatedly put the kibosh on the notion that this record was the origin of emo (or that the genre even ever existed), but that's beside the point. The record's influence is immeasurable, and it endures as a beautiful, screeching time capsule: something real, before everything Fugazi. -Patrick James

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17. The Bronx



The first 20 seconds of The Bronx's 2003 self-titled debut album will make you want to run through a brick wall. But in a good way. Released in a landscape of obnoxious metalcore, The Bronx stood out with their simple song structures and high energy, conventional hardcore sound that remains powerful 10 years later. The Angeleno natives have since made a name for themselves with notoriously nuts live shows and mariachi music, but their debut release remains their tour de force. -Zach Bourque

See also: The Unorthodox Punk Odyssey of The Bronx

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