Agnostic Front – Another Voice – Review

agnosticfront200Agnostic Front

Another Voice (Nuclear Blast)
by Tim Den

Agnostic Front were the first real “hardcore” band I got into. To this day, they are the standard (along with Sick Of It All) by which I measure all hardcore. Call me loyal to the old school NYHC sound and aesthetics, but nothing ever sounded as punishing, relatable, unique, and affective while I grew up as an immigrant kid in Miami, FL. For years, I listened to One Voice, Live at CBGB, Last Warning, and Liberty & Justice For… as if my life depended on it, venting feelings of alienation, racism, and poverty through Roger and Vinnie’s steel grooves. And while I dug the band’s “punkier” material (post-reunion), my heart was always with the crossover era Agnostic Front. Seriously, I don’t think I’ve ever written a hardcore review without mentioning these guys.

So I should be ecstatic that the band have returned to their “heavy” tendencies, right? In theory, yes. But as soon as Another Voice popped into my player, I knew that this album wasn’t going to get the same kind of addiction out of me. For one, the heaviness sounds calculated, as if the band’s so hell bent on being HEAVY, that they lost the effortless “this is what we sound like NATURALLY” magic of their earlier material. Even the lyrics seem more concerned with convincing you of their hardcore cred than just being poetry from the streets. “Still Here,” “It’s For Life,” and “I Live It” just don’t have the nails-and-smarts of “Genesis,” “New Jack,” and “Undertow,” you know? The balance of harsh realism and a touch of metaphor is what made Agnostic Front’s message ring loud and clear without being overbearing. And the thing is, I believe these guys are still capable of that. Which makes Another Voice feel even more forced.

I just recently got Live at CBGB on CD after wearing out my 10+ year old tape. You can hear, in both the band and in the audience, a pure sense of UNself-awareness that embodied hardcore’s appeal to the disenfranchised: We are here together, sounding the way we do and acting the way we do because it’s what’s NATURAL to us. In comparison, Another Voice feels like a record written with a knowing wink.