Agnostic Front's 1984 first full-length album Victim in Pain is considered to be one of the most (if not the most) influential hardcore records ever. It's been characterized as the encyclopedia of NYHC. What's weird is that despite all the talk about this album, it seems to have been kind of forgotten in today's hardcore scene. I truly wonder how many hardcore fans out of ten have this album in their record collections. Good news is that Bridge 9 just did a re-issue of Victim in Pain, and now people can discover this hardcore classic all over again, and with a better sound too as it's been remastered to fit modern standards.
Agnostic Front's Victim in Pain original artwork
That's the starting thing about listening to Victim in Pain; it sounds way more raw and punky than hardcore as people know it these days. Instead of focusing on the heaviness of the sound, AF paved their own style based on speed, with their trademark 1 minute hardcore blasts with mid-tempo breaks (i.e. the self-titled song and Blind Justice). I guess this is the whole structure behind Victim in Pain's simple genius: the exchange between fast/break, start/stop, which obviously creates a hostile effect and grabs the listener's attention. Isn't that what hardcore is about?
On the lyrical department, AF on this album were more politically oriented, mainly focusing on the problems of society's marginalized people and the fascist attitudes they received (and still do). But even at this early stage, it's easy to notice the lyrical standpoint that set hardcore apart from punk's nihilism. That would be no other than the Unity message in songs like United & Strong and Remind Them. Hardcore at that point introduced a new idea in the music world: people who listened to this music would be united and live their lives together and strong AGAINST mainstream society and not just as individual outcasts with no goals. Right here, in Victim in Pain, are the seeds that hardcore used as a template for its philosophy in the next 25 years to come.
Victim in Pain re-issue on Bridge 9 Records
Okay, so now a few things about the re-issue. Victim in Pain is released on CD, vinyl and color vinyl. The CD version also has AF's first EP, United Blood which is also a 'must have'. Collaborating with Agnostic Front for their 25th anniversary, Bridge 9 has also released a bunch of cool merchandise to go with it, like posters, flags, patches, stickers and whatnot. All in all, it's a good chance for younger people to check this classic and catch up on some serious Hardcore History.