Hardcore punk is an art form as distinctly American as jazz and competitive eating. The legendary scenes of New York, Boston, and California lay claim to the vast majority of bands liable to be referred to as "important" -- those whose T-shirts have been deemed worthy for wear by random hipsters in need of authenticity points.
However, Florida -- and South Florida in particular -- sustained a scene that spawned some of the best hardcore acts to ever stomp a stage or incite a microphone brawl. And though we're undoubtedly a little biased, we thought we'd compile a list to prove the point to those of you who may have forgotten (or never knew) the might of Sunshine State hardcore.
The following list is in no particular order.
10. Poison the Well
PTW was a Miami- and Coral Springs-based band that successfully mixed elements of melody and a healthy dose of experimentation with the anger of hardcore in a way that made its sound instantly recognizable and completely unique.
The band's first full-length, The Opposite of December, is considered a landmark record, and subsequent albums grew exceedingly experimental and sonically adventuresome, alienating many fans. In our opinion, the band's late career output does not get the respect it deserves.
9. Shai Hulud
To the chagrin of Florida metal fans, we included Shai Hulud on our list of top Florida metal bands. However, although Shai Hulud, founded in Pompano Beach, certainly has enough metal in its sonic recipe and has been influential enough to be on the metal list, at its heart, it's a hardcore band.
Driven by guitarist/lyricist Matt Fox, this band has had a revolving lineup since its inception, having included the likes of Damian Moyal and New Found Glory guitarist Chad Gilbert on lead vocals throughout the years. Most people will agree that Shai Hulud is the quintessential metalcore band.
Powerhouse is the original Florida hardcore band. This group was originally active from 1986 to 1991 and was a purveyor of the youth-crew sound and aesthetic that has returned cyclically as a trend in hardcore since the '80s.
The band reunited to play some notable shows in 2012, including the Reel and Restless Festival and a performance opening for the legendary Absolution.
If you had to pinpoint a band that truly forged the Miami hardcore sound as we now know it, it would have to be Brethren. The format includes a touch of metal, some sludge bits, and a sound as thick as the air of a Hialeah July or the traffic on the Palmetto. This band's demo was a heavier record than your favorite band's LP.
We have free porn and a case of soda for whoever can put together a reunion show in 2013.
6. Where Fear and Weapons Meet
There is a lot to be said for a band that can filter the aggression and energy of hardcore into positively charged lyrics and manage to avoid the line of cheese, but the Weapon (as the group is better known) did it better than just about anyone.
This band was active in the late '90s and early '00s, nationally recognized, and included members of almost every other band on this list and other notable individuals such as Eulogy Records owner John Wylie. The Weapon broke up in 2004 but returned last year without the inclusion of vocalist Alex Roundhouse, who has supposedly been busy building other people's stock portfolios and avoiding hardcore since 2004.
Culture was a band founded around a militant vegan and straightedge doctrine in the mid-'90s that featured Damien Moyal (also of Morning Again, As Friends Rust, and Shai Hulud) on vocals. There have been numerous bands named after Culture songs, and the response during this group's reunion set last year at the Reel and Restless Fest was intense, to say the least.
4. The Believers
This group has never gotten the notoriety it deserved. Biographical info is virtually nonexistent, unless you're willing to seek out elder statesmen of the scene for an aural rendering of this band's history. However, everyone who spends enough time in the Florida hardcore scene hears about the legend of the Believers and how they really could've been a huge deal had things gone a little differently.
Strongarm was formed in Pompano Beach in the early '90s and remains one of the only openly Christian hardcore bands that even your atheist friends could potentially get down with. This band would eventually turn into Further Seems Forever, which would eventually launch the career of Chris Carrabba. Pay attention to Shai Hulud's Matt Fox and Chad Gilbert's cameos in the video above.
2. Timescape Zero
Timescape Zero is another Miami band that helped forge the metalcore sound, and while this group remains an obscurity outside the state, its legacy is hallowed by those who were there to witness the action. When the parking-lot conversation turns to people recounting tales of the wildest shows they have been to, inevitably someone will bring up a Timescape gig.
1. Morning Again
Unfortunately, the inclusion of Morning Again on this list walks the line of redundancy because we've already mentioned Culture. However, both bands have put out influential and important music as individual entities -- despite the fact they have an incestuous member roster and a similar sound and ethos.
Jagged, metallic riffing and completely unhinged-sounding vocals are the hallmarks of Morning Again, and this band might be our favorite representation of the '90s hardcore sound. This is the third band on this list to feature Eulogy Records owner John Wylie and the third band to have had Damien Moyal on lead vocals.
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