At the dawn of the ’80s, early forms of punk were shifting into artsier, softer derivatives like New Wave, Indie Rock, and Emo.
But traditional punk’s evil twin was brewing on the horizon, leaving complex instrumentation and melodic song structure in the dust. While early punk was still rooted in the conventions of rock and roll established, there was very little semblance of Chuck Berry or the Beatles’ legacies by the time Hardcore Punk came along. This new, hard-hitting genre was built upon a fiery intensity that transcended all that had come before it. It refined rock music into its simplest, most aggressive form. A sonic relative of thrash metal, hardcore punk is ultimately defined by its staggering pace, ditching the boy scout rock and roll aesthetics and doubling down on abrasion. This of course would come with parallel shifts in the culture that followed.
Enjoy and subscribe to the latest Closer Look above! Scroll down for the individual tracks selected from the Hardcore Punk of 1982.
With the arrival of the Hardcore punk movement, the listener’s experience changed as much as the recording artists. The crowds of Hardcore Punk shows were far more involved in the experience. Violent moshing and harsh screaming of the lyrics superseded the traditionally relaxed concert going experience of most music that came before it. The shows became interactive as the artists fed on the crowd’s energy, absorbing their shouts and shoves and striving to match them in musical intensity. Live shows were a cathartic space for fans with anger to vent and an urge to push, sweat and scream.
The lifestyle of most Hardcore Punk artists (and listeners), is diametrically opposed to the expectations of outsiders. Most people who are unfamiliar with the genre assume that a Nihilistic, drug-heavy lifestyle and intolerant political views are typical characteristics of the average punk. This notion is in reality very far from the truth. The often sarcastic lyrics of the genre led many uninformed listeners to completely misunderstand the views of the artists. The themes of Hardcore’s lyrical content were similar to earlier Punk in that they were built upon Anti-Establishment, left-wing ideals. The new form of Punk followed the tradition of rejecting commercialism and conformity. However, it differentiated itself in that many Hardcore bands advocated for a restrained, healthy lifestyle which birthed the “Straight Edge Movement”. Bad Brains famously praised their “PMA” on the song called “Attitude” off of their self-titled debut in 1982. This stands for “Positive Mental Attitude” and was an essential pillar of the band’s way of life.
Like all forms of punk, hardcore will always be misunderstood to some degree. But if there’s anything to take away from the chaos once the dust clears, it’s that the visceral catharsis of the genre is ultimately a positive one. It’s a space that has to exist not only in music but in the human condition. Hardcore doesn’t need to be a frequent dwelling, but a necessary point of reference for when we need a good, violent thrash.
Descendents – Myage
Misfits – I Turned Into A Martian
The Damned- Life Goes On
Bad Brains- Sailin’ On
Dead Kennedys- Terminal Preppie
Fear- I Love Livin’ in the City
Mission of Burma- That’s How I Escaped my Certain Fate
X- Under the Big Black Sun
Anti-Nowhere League- Animal
The Exploited- Sid Vicious Was Innocent
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