Punk: albums that refined the genre
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Punk: albums that refined the genre

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While punk rock had already existed in many forms before, it was the emergence of Black Flag that became the defining origin of what came to be hardcore. In celebration of the sub-genre, arguably one of the most diverse and popular of all punk rock, here’s just a few of my favourite releases that sum up the style, sound and power of hardcore punk.

Black Flag – Nervous Breakdown (1978)

The one that started it all. Stripped back punk rock with aggression and attitude all turned up to 10. Reactionary against the fashion and image-focused style of the then popular English punk rock, the Californian innovators tear through four songs in five minutes on this must-have 7”. Released on guitarist Greg Ginn’s own label SST, the landmark record also introduced the now normal practice of bands releasing their own music independently of a separate record label, a DIY methodology that was practically unheard of in rock music at the time.

Poison Idea – Feel The Darkness (1990)

Emerging from the cold and wet American Pacific Northwest, Portland’s Poison Idea captured their sense of nihilism and self-destruction in their aptly titled 1990 masterpiece Feel The Darkness. With short and fast traditional hardcore of their early career (most notably the Pick Your King EP) this full length combines fast fury with forays into heavy metal and hard rock. Known for their immense drug use and a history of death, imprisonment and homelessness, the band arguably stand alone as one of hardcore punk’s finest examples of the sound reflecting their dark reality.

Bad Brains – S/T (1982)

Initially forming in Washington DC as a jazz fusion band before moving to New York City and rebranding themselves as a hardcore punk band, Bad Brains were one of the fastest and most musically forward-thinking bands of the early 1980s. At their finest on this record, the band’s live energy, cultivated from their infamous appearances at the fabled CBGB’s, cuts through with no reprieve

Refused – The Shape of Punk to Come (1998)

Before the release of this landmark record, Sweden’s Refused were a solid yet predictable metallic hardcore band. This album marked a drastic departure for the band, incorporating elements of techno, alternative rock and jazz into their immensely broadening scope of hardcore. While this record would end up breaking up the band almost immediately, the record’s influence and legacy continued to build over the years, with the band finally reforming in 2012 to crowds and audiences astronomically larger than they would have previously. For reference, they were booked to play in Melbourne in 1998 at 400 capacity Arthouse, however, they broke up beforehand and the show was cancelled. When they returned in 2012, they played two sold out shows at the 1200 capacity Palace Theatre.