Classic hardcore punk sowed the seeds by which today's alternative music blooms. Be it death metal, metalcore, pop-punk or screamo, the current iterations of aggressive rock wouldn't exist without our hardcore forefathers.
Here are 10 classic hardcore bands we think you'll love.
The launch pad for both Keith Morris (now frontman for Off!) and Henry Rollins, guitarist Greg Ginn's ragtag punk band defined early Southern California hardcore. Initially active from 1976 to 1986, Black Flag's seminal albums Damaged and My War still influence scores of independent punkers. For a generational bridging of Flag's impact, see the early-aughts compilation Black On Black: A Tribute To Black Flag, which features Converge, the Dillinger Escape Plan and the Hope Conspiracy offering homage to the unmistakable “four bars” of pioneering hardcore punk.
Check out: “My War”
When Dave Grohl namechecked “Manimal” on The Colour And The Shape's “Wind Up,” the Foo Fighter and former Nirvana drummer wasn't just honoring the Germs' classic (and only) full-length, (GI)—he was also shouting out founding Germ and Foo Fighters guitarist Pat Smear. Smear's legendary late-'70s punk outfit with venerable vocalist Darby Crash impacted succeeding waves of alternative bands, with everyone from Jane's Addiction to Red Hot Chili Peppers citing (GI)'s unlikely influence. Coincidentally, it's also one of Henry Rollins' favorite punk albums.
Check out: “Manimal”
No list of influential hardcore bands would be complete without Minor Threat. Ian MacKaye's short-lived (1980–1983), straight-edge convoy birthed an entire movement of sober-minded, socially conscious punk bands. Remarkably succinct in mood and message, the group's Complete Discography clocks in at under an hour. MacKaye later established emo forebearers Embrace and, of course, post-hardcore heroes Fugazi. Thanks to him and co-owner Jeff Nelson, Dischord Records put Minor Threat's Washington, D.C. hardcore scene—and DIY ethics—on the map.
Check out: “In My Eyes”
Another Washington, D.C. hardcore fixture, Bad Brains formed in 1977 and unleashed their groundbreaking debut in 1982. Originally released only on cassette, later reissues of the self-titled album included an emphatic quote from the Beastie Boys' Adam Yauch declaring it “the best punk/hardcore album of all time.” Bad Brains' original lineup of singer H.R., guitarist Dr. Know, bassist Darryl Jenifer and drummer Earl Hudson have reformed sporadically over the years, dabbling in dub, reggae and hard rock. H.R. apparently keeps abreast of the current heavy music scene: He lent guest vocals to Islander's “Think It Over” from this year's Power Under Control.
Check out: “Sailin' On”
A bastion of Cleveland hardcore punk, Integrity was founded on the North Coast in 1988. Feasibly the originators of metalcore, leader Dwid Hellion's menacing battalion of “Holy Terror” combined cryptic symbolism, punk ethos and unrelenting arrangements to construct a revered hardcore institution that's still thriving. 1995's crucial Systems Overload connected the late-'80s hardcore sound to the more extreme metalcore that was to come. For a deeper dive into classic Cleveland hardcore, check out our recent feature on the Ohio scene where AP got its start.
Check out: “Salvations Malevolence”