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Battalion of Saints A.D.

For many, the thought of Southern California in the '80s brings to mind a Less Than Zero-style existence full of cocaine and Ray-Bans. But the sun-baked swath of turf from L.A. south became, at the beginning of the decade, the cradle of searing underground punk. London's punk had its angular, spiky, plaid thing going on, and New York had its black-leather-jacketed Ramones vibe. But the SoCal bands were, arguably, often fiercer. Surrounded by suburban sprawl in a neon land of plenty, bands there were slightly less consciously citified and more bored, angrier, louder, and faster. Here is where the earliest stirrings of hardcore began, and among those leading the charge was the San Diego band Battalion of Saints. Led by singer George Anthony, this Battalion was speedy and aggressive, fueled by a seeming nihilism that doomed it from the start. The original lineup split by 1985, leaving the band, over time, a cult favorite of record collectors. In the mid-'90s, Anthony re-formed the band, though he was the only original member (two had died, and the original drummer refused to rejoin). Taang! Records in Boston reissued most of the previous '80s material on a compilation, Death R Us, which is also now out of print. But under the updated name Battalion of Saints A.D., the new foursome put out a new album, Cuts. At 13 tracks and barely more minutes in length, it's as stripped-down and amped-up as the early stuff.

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