The New York hardcore scene that arose in the early '80s was an intense but accurate reflection of a city in crisis, and no band better typified the sound and fury of the time than Agnostic Front. Taking the speed and simplicity of early N.Y.C. punk acts like the Ramones, the Dead Boys, and the Dictators, stripping the tunes to their frameworks, and upping the speed, impact, and overall rage, Agnostic Front provided the ideal and inevitable soundtrack for a city mired in debt and crime, with hundreds of underprivileged kids in Manhattan and its outlying boroughs forming bands to rail against the everyday trials, dangers, and prejudices of urban existence. The elemental sound of early Agnostic Front classics like 1984's Victim in Pain and 1986's Cause for Alarm were massively influential in the American hardcore scene, as well as providing a key stepping-stone toward speed and thrash metal.
1998's Something's Gotta Give, their first album for punk powerhouse Epitaph Records, was a more refined effort but showed that their rage and muscle were still there. And just as Agnostic Front influenced metal, metal would influence Agnostic Front; later efforts like 2007's Warriors and 2011's My Life My Way sounded beefier, full of the stuttering drums and shards of guitar that typified the harder edges of the metal scene.
Agnostic Front guitarist and co-founder Vinnie Stigma was a first-generation punk rocker and skinhead who formed Agnostic Front in 1980 with vocalist John Watson. Watson only lasted a few months before being replaced by Cuban-born Roger Miret; a product of refugee parents, he had firsthand experience in social injustice and opinionated views about politics coursing through his veins. When combined with Stigma's ferocious, primal rhythm guitar, Miret's charisma as a decadent urban messiah would come to personify the band's sound. Bassist Adam Moochie and drummer Ray Beez joined soon after. The group adopted the new name Agnostic Front (at Stigma's insistence because he thought it sounded like a movement), and they issued their first independent release, the United Blood EP, in 1983. This was followed by 1984's career-defining Victim in Pain album, which contained a 15-minute blast of pure New York hardcore and saw the arrival of new members Rob Kabula (bass) and Jimmy Colletti (drums). It also confirmed Agnostic Front's brief status as leaders (along with precursors the Cro-Mags and Murphy's Law) of the already cresting movement, which found its weekly showcase via the now legendary Sunday matinees at favorite Lower East Side haunts A7 and CBGB's.
Come 1997, however, Stigma and Miret began discussing a possible comeback for Agnostic Front. When top punk label Epitaph Records showed interest, the band's long-rumored resurrection became fact, with former members Rob Kabula and Jimmy Colletti completing the lineup that recorded both 1998's Something's Gotta Give and 1999's Riot, Riot, Upstart in quick succession. The latter boasted an especially strong set of retro-hardcore, and featured guest appearances from M.O.D.'s Billy Milano and Rancid's Lars Frederiksen, among others. With the hardcore scene that they'd helped build effectively dead in the dirt, few listeners outside the group's New York stomping grounds seemed to care about their return, but Agnostic Front continued to perform and record occasional albums like 2001's Dead Yuppies (with bassist Mike Gallo), 2003's Working Class Heroes, 2005's Another Voice, 2011's My Life My Way, and 2015's The American Dream Died. Stigma, Miret, and Gallo teamed with lead guitarist Craig Silverman and drummer Pokey Mo to record 2019's Get Loud; the cover art was an update of the images on Cause for Alarm, created by the same artist, Sean Taggart.