New York hardcore

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New York hardcore (also known as NYHC) is both the hardcore punk music created in New York City and the subculture and lifestyle associated with that music. New York hardcore grew out of the hardcore scene established in Washington, D.C., by bands such as Bad Brains (which were the first east coast hardcore punk band) and Minor Threat. Initially a local phenomenon of the 1980s and 1990s, New York hardcore eventually grew to establish an international reputation with little to moderate mainstream popularity but with a dedicated and enthusiastic underground following, primarily in Europe and the United States. With a history spanning over more than 3 decades, many of the early New York hardcore bands are still in activity to this day, some of them being continuously or almost continuously active since their formation (Sick of It All, Agnostic Front, Nihilistics and Murphy's Law) and also in the form of reunion shows.


Early history and emergence of NYHC[edit]

Around the mid to late 1970s New York City was arguably the birthplace of punk rock with the Ramones and the scene at CBGB. While the next generation of punks emerged in places like Washington, D.C. (Bad Brains and Minor Threat) and California (Black Flag, Dead Kennedys) in the early 1980s, NYC was initially quiet. A few bands like The Mad and The Stimulators hinted at a new direction. The Stimulators featured Harley Flanagan on drums, and attracted some of what would become the NYHC scene to their shows. The Stimulators and the Mad also made friends with Bad Brains, and gave the latter places to stay in town. In late 1980, Vinnie Stigma formed Agnostic Front, a long-running group who became known as the godfathers of New York Hardcore and arguably its most crucial band. Around the same time the term "hardcore" started being used instead of "punk rock" and bands like Cro-Mags, Murphy's Law and Warzone emerged, further cementing the blueprint for the characteristic NYHC sound. Roger Miret of Agnostic Front asserts that "We started using the term 'hardcore' because we wanted to separate ourselves from the punk scene that was happening in New York at the time ... We were rougher kids living in the streets. It had a rougher edge".[2] The early scene was documented on the 1982 New York Thrash compilation. Rock clubs like L'Amour's, A7, Max's, and the already established CBGB's quickly became crucial spots for this newly formed scene.[3]

Development and musical style[edit]

New York City would come to play a central role in the development of hardcore. In 1981 the Bad Brains moved from DC to New York and an important scene finally emerged, this is regarded a key point in NYHC as the Bad Brains had an enormous impact on local bands at the time. Besides the main influences of Bad Brains, Minor Threat and the LA punk scene; New Jersey horror punk band The Misfits as well as midwest groups Necros and especially Negative Approach are also regarded as early influences on the NYHC scene and the development of a rawer and more aggressive hardcore sound. Early NYHC skinhead bands like Cause For Alarm and Agnostic Front were also heavily influenced by Oi! music as well as English punk bands like The Clash. Other early groups like Cro-Mags, Sheer Terror, Carnivore and Leeway started adding strong metal influences, contributing to the crossover subgenre. Around the late 1980s, NYHC became increasingly heavier and harder in sound as the metal influences grew stronger, consequently some NYHC bands who were previously skinheads started growing their hair and adopting metal looks. Early 1990s bands like Merauder, Darkside NYC and Confusion incorporated strong thrash and death metal leanings, pioneering an early metalcore sound; other second generation groups like Biohazard, Madball, Skarhead and 25 Ta Life were heavily influenced by hip-hop music, an influence which permeated through most of the mid to late 1990s NYHC scene. The heavy hardcore subgenre also emerged amidst the NYHC scene, this was a slower and heavier form of hardcore developed in the early to mid 1990s by bands like Bulldoze (from Brooklyn) and Neglect (from Long Island).[4][5]

Influence, aesthetics, ideology and social impact[edit]

Sam McPheeters argues that

What early New York Hardcore bands lacked in distinctive output, however, they more than compensated for in sheer menace. As the scene coalesced in Reagan's first term, the New York Hardcore scene—known in the shorthand of graffiti and knuckle tattoos as NYHC—injected class into the subculture in a way that no other city could. It was a world marinating in poverty and violence.[6]

Since its early stages, New York hardcore has been heavily associated with hardcore skinhead culture (unrelated to neo-Nazi skinheads), gang ideology and tattoo culture as well as squatting. In the mid to late 1980s, Youth Crew ideology and graffiti culture started to make an impact on the scene and had a long-lasting influence on the genre. Critics and observers have also noted an inspiration and influence from gritty, urban and/or dystopian films such as Death Wish, Taxi Driver, The Warriors, and Escape From New York.[6] Historically, political stances in New York Hardcore have been varied and sometimes controversial. Some of the mid-1980s NYHC groups were aligned with right-wing ideology and had strong stances on immigration and patriotism, all the while openly condemning racism and nazism. There were also leftist groups associated with the scene such as Born Against and Nausea.[6] Beginning with Cro-Mags and inspired by the spirituality of the Bad Brains, some groups also followed the International Society for Krishna Consciousness.[6] By the mid-1990s, NYHC became an international phenomenon with prominent bands all over the globe being heavily influenced by the genre, such as Integrity from Cleveland, Strife from Los Angeles, Hatebreed from Connecticut, and Cold As Life from Detroit; an important scene also emerged in europe with Kickback from France, Ryker's from Germany, Arkangel from Belgium and Backfire from Netherlands, amongst many others.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Andersen, Mark; Mark Jenkins (2001). Dance of Days: Two Decades of Punk in the Nation's Capital. New York: Soft Skull Press. ISBN 1-887128-49-2.
  2. ^ Jason Buhrmester, "Agnostic Front's Victim in Pain at 25", Village Voice, December 1, 2009.
  3. ^ Blush, Steven (October 19, 2010). American Hardcore: A Tribal History (Second Edition). Feral House. pp. 193–194, 137, 140. ISBN 9780922915712. Retrieved February 15, 2016.
  4. ^ Andersen, Mark and Jenkins, Mark (2001). Dance of Days: Two Decades of Punk in the Nation's Capital. (New York: Soft Skull Press). ISBN 1-887128-49-2.
  5. ^ Blush, Steven (2001). American Hardcore: A Tribal History. (Los Angeles: Feral House). ISBN 0-922915-71-7.
  6. ^ a b c d Sam McPheeters, "Survival of the Streets", Vice Magazine, 2010.

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