There was a lyric on Touché Amoré's 2013 album, Is Survived By, that immediately jumped out, a focal point screamed by frontman Jeremy Bolm that exploded its opening track: "It's hard to write content." Meaning, it's difficult to be creative when life is going smoothly. It's the chaos and turmoil that make for good art. Well, life has not gone smoothly for Bolm since that album's release. Cancer claimed his mother in 2014 and he spent much of the rest of the year cleaning out her house, going through her possessions and reliving memories. So on the band's new album, Stage Four, Bolm had no shortage of discontented life experience to write about.
Stage Four is a beautiful album that is already getting its due from fans and critics, and, if there's any justice in this world, it will be remembered as one of the most intimate hardcore records ever written. But Bolm, a former record store employee and vinyl nerd, has a soft spot for the records that time has forgotten. There is more to the genre than megasellers like Jane Doe and Start Today, after all.
Upon the release of Stage Four, we asked Bolm to give us a list of hardcore albums that often get overlooked. So here are the singer's ten favorite underrated hardcore albums.
Blacklisted – No One Deserves to Be Here More Than Me (Deathwish)
This is the record that introduced the world to producer Will Yip. I remember being blown the fuck away at the sound and the direction this band took. Their go-to favorite for everyone seems to be Heavier Than Heaven, which I can't knock anyone for, but for my money, give me this album. It's daring, dark, truthful, sad, and angry. I think Blacklisted only continued to get better and more interesting. Respect to punk and hardcore bands that found their formula and know what works, but my praise will always go to the bands that want to challenge their audience and take risks. I love Blacklisted. Also, they basically took the main riff from Nirvana's "I Hate Myself and I Want to Die" and wrote one of my favorite songs in the genre, "Everything in My Life Is for Sale."
Breathe In – From This Day On (Bridge Nine)
Possibly the most brushed aside and forgotten band on Bridge Nine. Breathe In's sound is a sort of mix between Fat Wreck punk and American Nightmare/Carry On style punk/hardcore. It's as snotty as it is melodic. I remember picking it up because the cover felt like something American Nightmare passed on. I wouldn't call this a favorite album by any means, but as far as underrated goes, I have yet to talk to anyone else who backs this band. Their songs on the split they did with Time in Malta are better than any of their other material. I'll list that if I ever get asked to do a list of favorite splits.
Deadguy – Fixation on a Co-Worker (Victory)
A band and record way ahead of its time with production that is timeless. Tim Singer might have one of the most pissed voices in aggressive music (see also: Kiss It Goodbye). If you got into bands like Botch and Breather Resist but never listened to Deadguy, you are fucking up big time. This record was released on Victory Records in the glory days (Snapcase, Bloodlet, Strife, etc.).
Majority Rule – Interviews with David Frost (Magic Bullet)
I once saw Majority Rule play at Chain Reaction before Bury Your Dead. How Majority Rule got dealt that poor hand, I'll never know. I have to assume a cruel form of double booking. I specifically remember that the show was packed, but when Majority Rule played it was practically empty. The crowd chose to hang in the parking lot instead of seeing this abrasive trio do what they do best. If only those fools outside knew they were missing a band 20 times heavier than Bury Your Dead. This record instantly smashes you the moment it starts.
Minus – Jesus Christ Bobby (Victory)
I remember getting a promo for this record from Victory with a stack of other releases from them at that time like Ringworm and Darkest Hour, and being struck by this album's cover. It was creepy and ominous. Minus hails from Iceland and this album was originally released on Smekkleysa, a label owned by a member of The Sugarcubes. Jesus Christ Bobby can appeal to those who love Converge and Coalesce—super fucking raw and abrasive in all the right ways.
Most Precious Blood – Nothing in Vain (Trustkill)
This record came out when Trustkill was the burning hot-shit label, breaking bands like Poison the Well, Eighteen Visions, and Walls of Jericho. I was working at a record store at the time and I remember getting the promo copy of it and the cover was so striking and dark. A co-worker's brother had recently died and he was really upset by the album art. The recording is very blown out and grating, but it perfectly matches the desperation and intensity found in the lyrical content and performance. The mosh part/sing-a-long at the end of "The Lantern" is a total highlight.
Reversal of Man – This Is Medicine (Ebullition)
If you're a fan of the "screamo" genre, you are probably familiar with Reversal of Man. They did a split and shared members with CombatWoundedVeteran. All of their material had such a raw sense of urgency that put them above many of their contemporaries. They are perhaps most known for their song "Get the Kid With the Sideburns," which tells the story of getting jumped at an Earth Crisis show sung over the music of Earth Crisis' "Firestorm." I remember feeling very torn about this as I loved Earth Crisis (still do) but was getting super into this band/genre. This Is Medicine came out in 2000 on Ebullition Records which is highly esteemed for their business and distribution practices. This shit rules.
Sex Positions – S/T (Deathwish)
I mentioned with the Blacklisted record the idea of bands taking chances. Sex Positions formed after the demise of their previous band The Dedication (who also released a seven-inch on Deathwish called Youth Murder Anthems that is FANTASTIC) and took their sound to a new level, incorporating electronic aspects. I never got to see them live as they didn't tour much at all. There are great stories of their dysfunctional nature floating around, including having two separate versions of the band going simultaneously, playing shows with different lineups.
Silent Majority – Life of a Spectator (Exit)
Long Island's Silent Majority played a massive role in influencing more commercially successful bands like The Movielife and GlassJAw, both in vocal stylings and musically. Early GlassJAw was especially impacted by the band, which makes sense as frontman Daryl Palumbo occasionally played in Silent Majority for a short period of time. Even the band Polar Bear Club got their name from this record. The content is as fun as it is honest. Very brutally honest songs about everything from love to domestic violence.
Vision of Disorder – Imprint (Roadrunner)
Vision of Disorder was the first hardcore band I got into as a kid. I was a huge metalhead in junior high. I loved their self-titled record and when this came out, it floored me. The fact that this hardcore band has Phil Anselmo doing a guest vocal is also insane. This album feels looked past. When referencing VOD to most people, they only bring up the S/T record or the Still EP. This is high on my Holy Grail list for vinyl, so if you come across it… let me know!
All photos by Mitchell Wojcik