You might be asking me how much Eyehategod or Negative Approach coverage is enough and even I sometimes think I’ve seen these bands a few too many times but then, upon hearing those songs kick me in the chest with full force punk attitude, I realize that real life is so monotonous, I could and should only have more of these bands’ music in my life. You can never have enough great music.
This show was special though, it wasn’t the headliners that made it a must-see for me but rather The Accused AD and Sheer Terror, who don’t play in Los Angeles all that often. In fact, as Sheer Terror singer Paul Bearer noted, this show was their first in Los Angeles proper, having always been booked on the outskirts previously.
Beginning with The Accused AD, this Seattle crossover band proved why they were one of the most influential bands of their era in a relatively short but slobber knocker of a set. Blaine Cook, aka The Wizard, was bouncing off the walls the entire set as the riffs, bass, and drums belted out with punk rock fury and speed but unmistakably metal intensity and force. One of the things that set this band apart from everyone else in the 80’s and made them so influential to bands like Municipal Waste and Power Trip wasn’t just the music but also the album art which is often copied but can never be replicated. It needs to be said that of all the bands on this stacked bill, The Accused AD had by far the coolest merch.
Final Conflict‘s tradition of opening up for bands at rare and big metal or punk bookings, often at the Teragram, was beginning to wear on me but like the headliners, I get shocked right back into the mood the moment they play those abrasive, in your face, heavy, and unrelenting punk rock political statements. Whether the politics are as specific as “fuck Donald Trump” or as broad as “we’re all gonna die!”, Final Conflict has a message that cannot be missed or dissed.
Sheer Terror is one of the most important bands in the story of NYHC. They were a little different from their peers, a wholly different sound than the Cro-Mags or Youth of Today or Gorilla Biscuits. Paul Bearer’s voice and world view was about PMA (as in Post Mortem Attitude not Positive Mental Attitude). His voice was more blue collar, heavier, and unmistakable. People often credit them for introducing more metal into hardcore but that’s a bit reductive, they brought a whole new world of emotion and sound into the scene. The set they played was just as nuanced as the band has always been, we were given the hardest hardcore punk but then also this sweet, beautiful “punk for lovers” that was delivered with such authenticity, you could see Uncle Pauly tearing up a bit when he sang about his young love. The contrast of a voice and character that seems as hardened as Paul Bearer showing his vulnerability is what good art is all about.
Every song Negative Approach dares to play is delivered with such rawness and intensity that it immediately turns any show into a shit show. This is a breed of hardcore all it’s own, from an age where everyone in the scene was a real mother fucker and you couldn’t fake it if you tried. The music’s toughness reflects this because those songs and the pits that follow are not for the faint of heart. If you really feel the songs of Negative Approach, chances are you’ve broken the law. John Brannon is, was, and always will be the realest and the baddest, he’s an untouchable hardcore singer. Finishing off the set, Keith Morris came on stage to bridge the gap between Los Angeles and Detroit hardcore punk and together the two iconic singers delivered a cover of the Weirdos’ “Dead or Alive”.
Eyehategod had the job of finishing up the beaten and broken masses but as it turns out, doom metal with that New Orleans signature sound, was the perfect compliment and topping for hardcore. Eyehategod are different than any metal band though, they can pair with these bands because of their underground pedigree and attitude that oozes from the band’s every musical pore. It’s crusty, punk, and down right nihilistic at times… something every hardcore or power violence kid can understand.
Words by: Rob Shepyer
Photos by: Albert Licano