Agnostic Front: No One Rules 12"
Radio Raheem proudly presents this collection of long lost material from New York's #1 hardcore band, available here for the first time on (fully authorized) vinyl. The LP includes 34 tracks across two different recording sessions, the first predating the United Blood 7" and the second recorded just before the Victim In Pain LP. In addition, we dug deep into the NYHC vaults and assembled a massive 48-page, full color booklet, containing over 150 archival images tracing the band's early history from their start in 1982 until the end of their first nationwide tour in 1985 — some you may have seen before, but many have never seen the light of day until now — as well as commentary from members of the early NYHC scene.
Our take: Oh, where to start with this one... I feel like this is less a conventional LP release and more of a monument to the greatness of Agnostic Front, or maybe even hardcore in general. I mean, the packaging on this is absolutely ridiculous. Radio Raheem is already well-known for their extensive packaging, but this takes the cake. It feels insulting to call what comes inside this thing an "insert" or a "booklet," because what it really is is a 12"x12" full-color book about Agnostic Front. It's as beautiful and captivating as Tony Rettman's recent book on NYHC, and while it does something very different--presenting primary source material from the earliest versions of Agnostic Front--it feels just as historically valid and important, and is self-conscious about that sense of importance and value. Basically, if you think that US hardcore is an important art or social movement you want to own this thing. As for the music, it's tempting to view it almost as an afterthought, but there are without a doubt some jams on this record. The material is actually previously released, but only on CD (and a particularly poorly designed and abysmally distributed CD at that). Most of Side A is devoted to a 1983 demo that finds the band at a very formative stage. In all honesty it's a total mess, and while it's fascinating to see how far the band would come in a year's time, I'm not sure it'll get a lot of play on my turntable. The last 17 songs, though, come from a 1984 demo recorded just a few months later and it's like a totally different band. Somewhere in there Agnostic Front figured out who they were, and suddenly you can believe that this is the band that would eventually make Victim in Pain. It's sort of akin to the transition Discharge made between their early, Sex Pistols-influenced stuff and Realities of War. So, yeah, at the end of the day this is pretty raging stuff, but really this is a package for people who like to ponder and pontificate about hardcore, and if you just read my ridiculously long spiel about this record then you're probably one of those people, so go ahead and buy it if you haven't already.