Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Book Review: Burning Fight 90's hardcore book by Brian Peterson

Burning Fight: The Nineties Hardcore Revolution in Ethics, Politics, Spirit, and Sound. by Brian Peterson

Punk and Hardcore music is impossible to explain to someone who has never been apart of it. I thought about it a couple years ago when I saw a Vegan straight edge band from Southern California playing in Portland. I had friends around me that grew up in California, New York, Oregon and Indiana counting myself. We all grew up in different states but we all got into this loud music with similar ethics.

Hardcore to the outsider is loud aggressive music that sounds like screaming. During the 90’s hardcore peaked with a vital age. Peterson has taken on the nearly impossible task on documenting 90’s hardcore music scene. This is harder to do than a music scene that is all over TV and covered in mainstream magazines.

Hardcore is small, personal and often regional. The fans and bands are interchangeable, the fans make the records, put out the zines and perform in their own bands. To say this is an important book is a massive understatement.

Broken in four chapters that address the major issues addressed by the bands in lyrics like Straight edge, Animal rights and Spirituality. Next Peterson interviewed many of the major hardcore bands of the 90’s. Highlights include several interviews with Rob Fish and his bands, Earth Crisis, Downcast, Trial and Vegan Reich. Several of the interviews like Undertow and threadbare highlight how local hardcore is.

I have little nitpicks why interview Texas is the reason (not hardcore) and Cave-in (Ok, they were good but what impact), while amazing bands like Day of Suffering, morning Again, Birthright and Undying didn’t get entire chapters devoted to them.

I first got into hardcore music and straight edge in 1989, I was the only kid in my town who was straight edge and there were less than a dozen who were fans of or ever heard of New York Hardcore bands like Agnostic Front and sick of it all. When I got involved hardcore was different.

We didn’t have an internet DJ Rose of Path of Resistance always said we were like Gypsy tribes. In the 90’s hardcore exploded and it did so in many ways. It is hardcore to think back to a scene that existed where no one had ever heard the song Firestorm or Shelter was some weird new band by Ray of Today.

Burning Fight might also serve as tool for us weird hardcore kids to explain to friends and family what we gave up our lives for in the 90’s. Why did we drive all over the country for shows, why we did bands, why we got into all these radical new ideas. This book only Sctraches the surface. You had to be there but you know this as close as you are going to get.

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