Our 1995 Yearbook issue provides an excellent rundown of the wild and seminal extremely extreme releases of that year, but it was also an amazing trip around the sun for heaviness outside of metal.
If you’d like to explore that end of distorted history, here are ten places to start…
1. Into Another — Seemless
The revolutionary tear Into Another went on in the early 90s is almost(?) unparalleled: A perfectly (and perfectly bizarre) marriage of proggy arena rock, metal, and hardcore on 1991’s self-titled classic; maybe the best, most nuanced post-hardcore record ever with Ignaurus, and, then, finally, Seemless — a glorious, subversive, uplifting alternative vision of what alt-rock could’ve been if the underground pioneers had been allowed in the driver’s seat to which they got so tantalizingly close.
2. Threadbare — Self-titled EP
One of the heaviest, most under-appreciated metallic hardcore offerings of the nineties, period. Should be held in the same esteem as every other classic of that era.
3. Shelter — Mantra
Few melodic hardcore records are as fully realized or foundation-shifting as Quest for Certainty (1992) and Attaining the Supreme (1993), but Shelter took it a step further on Mantra both sharpening up its attack and exponentially raising the pop quotient of its songs. And although this approach would veer off the rails a bit a couple years later on Beyond Planet Earth, there isn’t a single miss on Mantra — every song is a perfectly distilled/realized musical/philosophical ear worm.
4. Metroschifter — Fort Saint Metroschifter
From The Metroschifter Capsule (1994) to Carbonistas (2009), Metroschifter were one of the most adventurous and creatively restless bands in indie rock, but Fort Saint Metroschifter might be the Louisville sluggers most shining, beautiful, abrasive release. Essential…even if the world still doesn’t know it.
5. Doughnuts — The Age of the Circle
Man, if you ever need a reminder what a forward-thinking label Victory was in its heyday, revisit this sublime slab of dark, progressive Swedish hardcore. The Refused should do us all a favor and get a reunited Doughnuts to open their next tour. They deserve all the recognition those sold out audiences would bring and more — however belated.
6. Unwound — Future of What
The descriptor “angular” definitely got overused into obsolescence, but what else would you call this genius-level combination of indie weirdness and epic emotional/sonic heaviness? A very interesting, cool snapshot of a band on the verge of some wild late career evolutions.
7. Snapcase — Steps
One last salvo of rawness before Snapcase tightened up the sound for Progression Through Unlearning, the Steps EP is as defining and enlivening a moment you’ll find 90s underground hardcore.
8. Babes in Toyland — Nemesisters
In the rock doc 1991: The Year Punk Broke Babes in Toyland light up a massive Reading Festival crowd with a scathing rendition of the 1990 Spanking Machine track “Dust Cake Boy.” And yet Babes remained inoculated against the mainstream attention bug, refusing to polish and doubling down on the discordant, the feral, the acerbic — as 1995’s Nemesisters aptly proves.
9. Lifetime — Hello Bastards/Shift — Spacesuit
Sorry, I couldn’t choose between these two pop-punk hardcore masterpieces. Forgive me. Both are masterclasses in infusing ferocity with melody and should be venerated as perfect examples of growing up from your roots without losing your soul.
10. Prick — Self-titled.
Honestly, how in in the name of all things good and holy was this not the Trent Reznor-championed record that blew up rather than Marilyn Manson’s Portrait of an American Family. It’s a fucking tragedy of history!