Various Artists

Faster & Louder: Hardcore Punk, Vol. 2

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Considered unimaginably over-the-top and atonal at the time, the early sounds of hardcore punk don't sound nearly as noisy decades later. Dare we say, they even sound a bit poppy and tightly conceived in comparison with the uncompromisingly bleak, rushed, and amelodic sounds of today's underground hardcore groups. That's not to take away from the undeniable influence and power of first-generation hardcore. Faster & Louder: Hardcore Punk, Vol. 2 does a good job of assembling some of the most enduring and accessible moments of the genre's genesis. This 17-song compilation includes the first singles by Husker Du and X, who went on to transcend hardcore's limitations pretty rapidly. It also includes seminal tracks by Agent Orange and Wire, as well as influential bands with smaller cults like the Wipers, the Dils, and Zero Boys, down to nearly forgotten acts (Dys, Stranglehold). The bleakest and most vicious strand of early hardcore is represented by Fear, the Germs, the Subhumans. Not a bad package for those who want to sample the genre's highlights and limit its representation in their collection to this fairly small and manageable dose.

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