Track 10 on Agnostic Front's latest album Warriors is called "We Want the Truth." Well, here it is: I haven't listened to any Agnostic Front since Something's Gotta Give. Why? Part of my motivation was lost immediately after the unearthing of archive footage of Phil Donahue’s exposé on New York hardcore. The on-air debate about “Public Assistance” sent more than a few of us (including myself) into a defensive PC frenzy that spawned accusations of racism and reinforcement of the stereotypical, unsympathetic New York tough guy. Of course, that was before taking note of lead singer Roger Miret’s “100% Latino” tattoo or acknowledging his campaign for animal rights and the multitude of dissident messages throughout the band’s extensive catalog. Go figure.
The second reason was based on the band‘s move from Epitaph Records to Nuclear Blast, and accounts of a more metallic sound on 2005’s Another Voice. Without actually hearing the result, I envisioned AF going through the evolution/decline of a band like Corrosion of Conformity who traded it in the aggressive hardcore punk of Technocracy for the agonizingly slow metal grooving of Blind. My imagination ran wild, and the thoughts weren’t pretty.
That’s why I was pleasantly surprised to slip Warriors into my CD player and be immediately hammered into submission. While it’s true the 2007 Agnostic Front is noticeably heavier than my last taste of the band (1998’s Something’s Gotta Give), Warriors is still a hardcore record through and through. The galloping double-bass drumming of Steve Gallo combined with Vinnie Stigma’s class hardcore punk guitar styles beat like a jackhammer under Roger Miret’s trademark snarl. In hardcore, everyone is family. But Warriors' producer Freddy Cricien of Madball actually is family, putting a powerful, hard-hitting finish on his big brother’s ninth studio full-length.
Nowhere on Warriors is there a more clear illustration of the tight, robust style and production than “No Regrets,” with its straight-ahead riffage and pummeling rhythm that barely stops for breakneck fills, while gang shouts of “NO REGRETS!” appear strategically throughout. The straight-edge Miret takes a fairly common-sense approach to “Addiction” as he confronts the song’s subject: "I’ve watched you fade away / Have you lost sight of the dreams of yesterday? / Don’t fuck up your life / You’re doubting control / Now you’re a victim, you’re losing your soul." Despite double-bass drumming being employed heavily throughout the album, there are very few of the double-bass breakdowns that younger generations of hardcore bands rely upon. And even when they do appear, they aren’t the stereotypical open E-string pounds of today’s bands, but rather demonstrate shifting chords and even some of the album’s most melodic moments like on “By My Side.”
There's already been a hardcore Warriors album released earlier this year, but no matter. Coming from Agnostic Front, this is still the original. It’s hard to express how great it is to still be hearing Roger Miret and Vinnie Stigma plugging in and playing with as much conviction in 2007 as they had in 1984. Different, certainly, to some degree, but still Agnostic Front and still no-holds-barred hardcore. With tight, fierce songs that come packing a punch, Warriors is a welcome addition to Agnostic Front’s already stacked catalog no fan should be without.