Born Against

Nine Patriotic Hymns for Children/Battle Hymns of the Race War

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Born Against was THE early-'90s hardcore punk band, coming in microseconds ahead of Econochrist, and Nine Patriotic Hymns for Children was THE hardcore punk album. The band relied on Vermiform owner and band frontman Sam McPheters and guitar sidekick Adam Nathanson to steer the ship, as the stability of the remainder of the band's lineup resembled Spinal Tap's endless cycle of drummers or Black Flag's endless parade of singers. Also in typical irreverent punk rock fashion, the band sheds the pretension of "idol worship" by using fake and ridiculous names like "John Hinckley Hiltzsquatch" (actually John Guzman, drummer) to identify the band members in the album sleeve. Nine Patriotic Hymns for Children presents itself in a hilarious and subversive way. The cover features a bright and cheery American flag, and stars and stripes abound. A small white label in the corner encourages that you file the album under "educational." You have no idea if any religious shops ever ran across the album by accident and misread the band's name as "Born Agains" as opposed to Born Against. Whether it happened or not, the image of a repressed, stressed-out Christian parent buying this album inadvertently for their precious and sheltered little ones makes this one of the funniest rock & roll tricks ever. The lyrical content is just awesome. When the war in the Gulf was about to break out, before Nirvana and Green Day, punk rock and the radical political dialogue around it made every little punk-rocker a genuine target. The political ambitions of early-'90s punk rock broke the chains of stasis and boredom that the hardcore scene had fallen beneath. This album is one of the main cinders that has sparked a fire which still burns, a big impetus to both the emo and hardcore scenes that have produced mainstream rip-offs like At the Drive In and Refused. In fact, Refused had the gall to cover a Born Against song, while blatantly violating the stringent anti-corporate ethic of the band whose sound they stole. This album should be in every young person's collection, a wake-up call reminding "the kids" that serious problems do exist, that you can make a difference without ripping people off, and that being angry and rebelling for change can be fun at the same time.

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