Agnostic Front - Victim in Pain (Cover Artwork)

Agnostic Front

Victim in Pain (1984)


Picture this. It is 1984 in New York City, more specifically Lower East Side, New York City. The streets literally look like a warzone. To say times were tough back then would be an understatement. Blocks were littered with bums, not a care in a world, just wasting way on the street corner. Prostitutes and junkies everywhere you look. Gang fights as common as graffiti in an alleyway. So what were 4 middle class kids in a band called Agnostic Front to do? Move to the suburbs? Not likely.

Local scenes were developing at rapid pace in the mid-eighties. L.A. and D.C. were at the top of the heap, but there was still no scene for New York. Sure there were bands aroud like Bold, Kraut, and Straight Ahead. (Even Agnostic Front had released United Blood e.p. in '82.) But there was no definitive band or release to mark the scene around yet. Victim in Pain would change that.

This is the record that kickstarted the whole scene, no question about it, Agnostic Front was the band, Victim in Pain the album, and CBGB the venue. Many say it was one of the first true hardcore releases. Of couse there were many bands playing hardcore before AF even formed, many of which were even better than AF, but nobody made music as hard and fast as Agnostic Front in 1984. Bitter music from the streets, about the harsh reality seen everyday.

To back it up, if you didn't believe the record, you just had to waltz down to CBGB (Back during the beloved Sunday Matinee days) where you could see for yourself shows that could easilly match the albums intensity. Agnostc Front toured all over the U.S. spreading what was going on in New York and helping to establish the scene, 20 years after they formed, they still play small clubs and still put on amazing shows.

As far as the record goes. Victim in Pain is just pure short, fast, raw, angry bursts of angst ridden New York hardcore at its finest. Words of politics, and disillusionment (Back before it was cool to sing about these things in hardcore) Every track is a hardcore classic, from "Last Warning" to "Your Mistake" The album is far from what they are doing on epitaph now, this is the music that made them legends. Sure I may be bloating up Agnostic Fronts legacy a bit, but there are many people that don't know anything about this scene or city other than just band names and many east-coast bands deserve more recogniton than they get.

On a final note, to clear the air on the internet gossip/rumor mill, any ideas of racism you may have about Agnostic Front, just forget it, listen to the lyrics, talk to the band themselves. The Nazi rumors and racist rumors are complete lies. Maybe Agostic Front gives off bad first impressions, as some sort of macho skinhead band that just care about pounding people smaller than them. That is far from the truth, None of the band are even skinheads(With the exception of the drummer) and you will always see members of the band, particularly Roger, at tons of local shows supporting bands and just hanging out with fans.

Again, I'm not saying Victim in Pain is the best hardcore album of all time, it might not be the best album from the whole New York scene, this might not even be your cup of tea, but there is no denying that Agnostic Front started it all for New York and were a major player for the East-Coast.