1991 was a huge year for metal of all stripes (see Decibel #137), but it would also prove to be an important time for hardcore as well, particularly in its relationship to metal. I mean of course the release of Integrity's classic debut, Those Who Fear Tomorrow.
Along with bands like Earth Crisis, Marauder and Vision of Disorder, Integrity played a huge role in taking hardcore into heavier territory at a crucial moment in its history. By 1991, hardcore had traveled from its beginnings in the first wave (1979-1986) through the tougher, more inward-looking aesthetic of youth crew, and was given an extra dose of distortion with the thrash-metal crossover.
But unlike other bands who focused on political activism or "standing up for the scene," Integrity took things into a different, darker direction. Frontman Dwid Hellion and his compatriots have made the band's name by exploring the violence of human nature, the horrifying nature of existence, and all manner of alienation, terror and foreboding. Sounds more like metal than hardcore, doesn't it? Krieg's Neill Jameson emphasized this same point in an article for No Clean Singing:
"Blending hardcore punk and metal initially, Integrity has evolved and changed so many times that the only true constant is that it’s excessively dark and punishing music with a strong aesthetic vision, straying closer thematically to black metal than to punk"
Through the use of guitar solos, harsh vocals and deeply unsettling lyrical themes, Integrity gave themselves a unique sound that transcends straightforward hardcore.
On August 5, Integrity will release a 25th anniversary remaster of Those Who Fear Tomorrow, an album that boasts so many classics, it might as well be a greatest hits album: "Judgement Day," "Darkness," "In Contrast of Sin" the list goes on. Of course, there's a whole world to discover in albums like To Die For, Humanity is the Devil, Systems Overload, The Blackest Curse and Seasons in the Size of Days. But this is the raw, crunchy string of beatdowns that got things going.