The Ten Best American Hardcore Punk Albums

Categories: Commentary

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Here's what Black Flag looks like in 2013.

Seeing that a form of Black Flag is touring right now (and playing Trees on Friday), we thought it a good time to investigate American hardcore punk rock. For all practical purposes, the beginning of hardcore in the states happened in the early 80's. While many hardcore acts were inspired by the Sex Pistols, The Ramones and The Clash, bands such as Minor Threat, The Misfits and Bad Brains were far more extreme and intense.

Throughout the 80's, two highly competitive scenes emerged in American hardcore punk: one in D.C. and one in L.A. And although the styles of the bands from each coast were markedly different, the power on display was a universal constant. So much so that this list could easily be doubled or tripled without any diminished greatness.

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10. Social Distortion - Mommy's Little Monster
Released in 1983, Mommy's Little Monster was the debut full length from Mike Ness and Social Distortion. More influenced by rockabilly and country than any band of the era, Monster none-the-less rocked hard from start to finish.


9. The Descendents - Milo Goes to College
Smartass and just plain smart, Milo Goes to College was the wonderful debut from The Descendents. 15 songs and not a bum note in the batch and "I'm Not a Loser" is one of the great American punk rock anthems.


8. The Germs - (GI)
Although this album was released in 1979, the spirit and intensity fits comfortably with 80's hardcore. The late Darby Crash was the model for many singers who came after him and his seething performance on (GI) is still remarkable three decades later.

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21 comments
Kenny93
Kenny93

Suicidal Tendencies' self-titled debut?

miked668
miked668

@Kenny93  Suicidal Tendencies is really more of a thrash band, maybe crossover thrash.

kylemacabre
kylemacabre

Social distortion isn't a hardcore band. Also the stains, agnostic front, boston not LA comp bands COC - this list is dumb 7/10 bands are California bands no boston no portland too much LA!

manny_miles24
manny_miles24

Circle Jerks - Group Sex / The Adolescents - Adolescents / Dead Kennedys - Plastic Surgery Disaster / MDC - Millions of Dead Cops and The Decline of Western Civilization soundtrack are a few favorites not mentioned.

MisterLee
MisterLee

Uhhhh... How about Tied Down (should easily be in the top-5 American HC records), the ROIR tape, Victim In Pain, Vicious Circle, The Kids Will Have Their Say, Age Of Quarrel, and on and on.

MisterLee
MisterLee like.author.displayName 1 Like

If you're gonna list the Misfits — which I wouldn't, despite loving them — how could you pick 'Walk Among Us' over 'Earth A.D.' which is actually a hardcore record?

Debaser7
Debaser7

Circle Jerks - Wild in the Streets.  You missed that one.

Adolescents - blue album.  Just sayin'

darrylrs
darrylrs

the CIrcle Jerks always struck me as second tier hardcore. Adolescents were great. They would be #11.

rojasdivision
rojasdivision

This list was an automatic fail when I saw Bad Brains' "I Against I". I guess their self-titled release from 1982 didn't meet your definition of what hardcore punk is.

darrylrs
darrylrs

The self-titled release was good, but it was way underproduced. I Against I was a masterpiece. It is the only Bad Brains album that had any production whatsoever. But in a top 30 list, there may be three bad brains albums.

rojasdivision
rojasdivision

@darrylrsHardcore punk is probably the one genre where production quality is not super high on the list of qualifying it as a great record. If you want to go that route for criteria, you might as well take Minor Threat and The Misfits off your list

"I Against I" is a solid and influential record no doubt but it was also slicked up and fused with more metal and funk than anything. The S/T record however is raw, full of grit and laid the foundation for all hardcore punk albums coming out of that decade.

And calling the Circle Jerks second-tier hardcore? Party foul.

Doug Christenson
Doug Christenson

In 1969...before the term Punk was known...before the early 80s...before The Sex Pistols....there was The Stooges. To leave them off your list fails to give credit where credit is due...

Kevin Snearley
Kevin Snearley

While not really "hardcore Punk", I really like: NOFX - Punk in Drublic, Propaghandi - Less Talk More Rock, and Lagwagon - Trashed. Those are my favs.

JohnJay24
JohnJay24

I am not sure if Fugazi is considered punk, but "13 Songs" was always one of my personal favorites. I noticed you have Minor Threat on there so it might be considered duplication. 

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