Heavy metal owes much to the 1980’s hardcore scene, both in musical style and live performance. Bands such as Minor threat and Dead Kennedys were a huge influence on the developing thrash metal scene. Thanks to the influence of hardcore punk shows, many fans in the heavy metal community started moshing at metal concerts, changing the live experience forever. So it’s only natural for us on the site to recognize one of the most unique hardcore punk bands of that era in this weeks throwback segment: Bad Brains.
Forming in Washington D.C. in the late 70’s, Bad Brains concocted an interesting style of punk music that would go on to influence countless bands in the next couple of decades. They’re often referred to as one of the pioneers of hardcore, which is a valid statement, but they adopted so many varying influences that it’s almost impossible to classify them as anything other than BAD ASS. The varying influences were demonstrated on their self-titled debut in 1982. Not only was “Bad Brains” very hardcore in sound, but it was easily the fastest hardcore release up to that point. Another thing that made it stand out from the rest of the scene were the guitar solos. Yes, punk bands have soloed before, but not with the same level of skill and technicality as demonstrated on the album’s first track, “Sailin’ On” (Listen below).
Probably one of the coolest aspects of this band comes from the fact that the members are true followers of the Rastafarian movement. Needless to say, because of this there is a strong reggae influence in the sound. Their first release demonstrated this largely in individual tracks such as “Leaving Babylon” and “I Luv I Jah”, but by the time the album “I Against I” was released, the reggae was fully integrated into their sound. Many alternative bands of 1990’s have used these Bad Brains albums as a template for their own fusions of rock and reggae (whether they succeeded or not is clearly subjective). H.R. has some of the most unique vocals I’ve ever heard. It’s difficult to describe his style so just check out the tracks below, and form your own opinion.
On a final note, next time one of your stoner friends is in your car, and asks you to play Sublime, just play Bad Brains instead.