DB HOF NO. 109
The making of Agnostic Front’s “Cause for Alarm”
released: May 1986
label: Combat Core
Agnostic Front’s Cause for Alarm is an atypical Hall of Fame induction. Most of the previous 100-plus albums that have graced these pages were created by bands that had a solid core and had been playing together (if not recording together) for years. Cause for Alarm was the second album from a band in transition at the time. Two of the five members who played on it weren’t on the band’s 1984 debut, Victim in Pain, and this is, in fact, the only Agnostic Front album they ever played on. Further adding to the intrigue is the involvement of Peter Steele (R.I.P.), who was fronting Carnivore at the time, but also had a hand in helping to create this album.
Despite the less than solid lineup and other circumstances surrounding the making of the record, the quintet responsible for Cause—vocalist Roger Miret, guitarists Vinnie Stigma and Alex Kinon, bassist Rob Kabula and drummer Louie Beato—stepped up and made a crossover album that would piss off skinheads with its thrash-influenced music, outrage P.C. talk show hosts with its controversial lyrics and win over a rabid metal contingent with its streetwise hardcore intensity. This is an album that predates the Cro-Mags’ The Age of Quarrel by about four months, and it presaged a significant shift in one of the country’s most entrenched punk scenes.
Agnostic Front were, in 1986, certainly not the first hardcore band to assimilate metal influences. But they were first among the tough-as-nails Lower East Side hardcore contingent to take this direction, and it’s safe to day that it had a long-lasting effect. The NYC metal crowd—Anthrax, Overkill, et al.—had bridged the gap from their perspective, but Agnostic Front put an altogether different spin on crossover with their West Coast thrash-influenced take. Released just six months after S.O.D.’s Speak English or Die, this could be considered the hardcore response to that Decibel Hall of Fame-inducted album.
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