For the past 35 years, straight edge bands have come and gone, many leaving a huge impact on those who have listened to their music and watched them perform. Speaking on themes such as environmentalism and vegetarianism/veganism, many straight edge bands have kickstarted movements in the hardcore scene, while others offered much more personal lyrics that consoled their fans emotionally. While some of these bands have chosen to adopt new lifestyles and leave straight edge behind, many others have stuck to the term “true til death.”
Each week, BRP writer Josh S. will share a top ten list of bands involving various genres and subjects. The first list, “The Top 10 Straight Edge Bands of All Time,” focuses on band’s overall impacts on the straight edge community, from lyrics that pushed the agenda to messages that will impact generations to come.
Let’s face it, the straight edge scene has had its ups and downs in the last ten years or so, and there was a lot of new bands to choose from but few of them made an impact like Foundation. Nothing says a straight edge band like straight edge lyrics. But Foundation showed us you don’t need to use the words “straight edge” and “drug free” to talk about the struggles of addiction and real-life anguish. With the raw emotion and pure power killing voice of Andrew you can’t deny the enjoyment of seeing a live set from this band. From songs like “Hang your head,” “Purple Heart” and “The New Faith,” you can never go wrong. Even though this band is now gone, the ten year legacy they leave with straight edge will continue to leave an impact.
Tight lip politics: That’s the first thing I think of when I hear this band’s name. Very aggressive, in-your-face lyrics such as “F*ck your drugs/F*ck your life/F*ck everything you think you know” kept the core straight edge movement, moving bands like this that slowly pushed strong ideas to later on Seventh Dagger bands, such as xAFBx, Barcadia, Eyes To The Sky and more. You can’t forget the bands that help build a label such as Seventh Dagger when signing bands. Suicide Party will always be one of my favorite straight edge anthem albums of all time.
8. Embrace Today
There has been a handful of short-lived militant straight edge bands like Judge or Chorus Of Disapproval, but one band that stuck together and even pushed the boundaries with their shirts and lyrics was this unforgettable Boston based band. Sit down and listen to every album back to back and find yourself a copy of the “FYIE” shirt and wear that with your straight edge pride. Nothing says a fight at a frat party like Embrace Today merch. Streaming from more of a metalcore sound with strong hardcore roots, it’s never to late to check these guys out. “Bullets over Boston” will be your new favorite edge song.
Despite members selling out and attempting to drop new music at a chance to regain a place back in the hardcore scene, this California based band singlehandedly drove the western straight edge movement far beyond its limits in the 90s with albums like My Fire Burns On, Strife, One Truth and In The Defiance. Many strong believers and edge lifers hold on to lyrics from songs such as “Stand As One” and “Force Of Change.” Selling out or not, this band had an impact on my youth, being introduced to them from previous generations who enjoyed this same melodic riffs and breakdowns.
6. Suffocate Faster
Suffocate who? Yeah, a lot of you now may not remember this band, but this is one of my personal favorites. The more I’ve talked about Cincinnati based straight edge hardcore band Suffocate Faster, the more people from my generation tell me it’s one of the best bands of that time they have seen. Vocalist Chris Alsip (One Nation Under/Headstall) delivers hands down the rawest sound you’ve ever heard out of the Midwest. Whether they’re touring to the West Coast, playing Edge Fest, or driving across the Midwest, this band gets on and you can say goodbye to the place you’re currently standing. The biggest reason I put them on this list: their shirts show the strong dedication to straight edge and as well as their lyrics, such as “I walk the path the mainstream fears/Walk the path straight edge/Take it to your grave” and “We resist your filth/Our edge can never be dulled.” You cannot have a Midwest Edge Day Fest complete without this band on the bill.
5. Ten Yard Fight
We all know California has a strong edge scene. So does New York, Florida and of course, Boston, Mass. There’s tons of Boston bands I could have picked from, but Ten Yard Fight built a strong bridge for the 2000s edge bands to carry such a big torch. I personally don’t dabble too much into this band, but if you want to hear a track that may have changed the way Patrick F., Aaron, Pete and many others think, then check out the track “Drug Free Nation.” For anyone that celebrates National edge Day, this band’s last show helped in creating the famous October 17th holiday.
4. Have Heart
Where to start. There is so much to say about this band and there’s so much that was unsaid. Following behind a Boston great is another Boston great at number four. Many may claim now to never have liked this band and many to this day beg for a reunion even though Pat F. clearly said it would never happen. This is the PMA of straight edge and no matter how much someone tries to diss this band, you can’t deny this: Those outplayed Boston straight edge shirts and hoodies were everywhere. This is the band that brought a large amount of a generation into hardcore and straight edge alike. Holding down national edge as their last show to a crowd of 4,000 fans, I’ve never seen so much emotion or meaning in one room. This band impacted the scrawny vegan kids as much as the big tough guys in hardcore. I can’t remember one song written by this band that didn’t have a meaning. From the first note to the last, the real raw emotion and passion of music was fully there. Forever Boston straight edge.
You’re probably questioning how Throwdown ended up so high on this list. Well, when Haymaker came out in 2003 and the music video for the song “Forever” was released, the pride of straight edge came rolling in. Hardcore, metalcore and metal fans alike jammed out to this Orange County band. I still remember seeing them with Keith and hearing everyone chant “Raise your fist in the air drug free” and “Get sick motherf*cker.” This band knocked the socks off at Hellfest, Warped Tour, and Canadain rock fests. Next to Have Heart, this band exploded a whole generation into being straight edge and living that lifestyle. Whether you think they’re metalcore, a Pantera rip-off band or another hardcore act, this band made you think twice about your drug habits.
2. Youth Of Today
Despite everyone being mad at Ray Cappo for, well, not really being edge, this band has done things no one else could fulfill and that’s why they earn their number two spot. The album Break Down The Walls was most likely the real push for the straight edge movement and the creation of the youth crew movement. Forming in 1985, two years after Minor Threat disbanded, this hardcore Queens, NY based band had the biggest torch to carry. The music video for “No More” sold an entire generation of vegetarianism. With Ray later co-founding Revelation Records and Equal Vision Records, Youth Of Today and the songs they wrote have really stood the test of time.
1. Earth Crisis
At number one, the undisputed vegan militant straight edge metalcore-hardcore kings of upstate Syracuse, NY earned this spot without a second thought. The band holds three straight edge members 25 years later and two other edge members from 23 years ago. Earth Crisis spoke about animal liberation and living up to those standards. When you hear their name, the intro of “Firestorm” instantly kicks in. Their “last” show was the highlight of the decade for the straight edge community and their return meant just as much. Earth Crisis helped Victory Records build its business and most likely held the strongest lifers and committed straight edge kids more then any other band. The fans of Earth Crisis have truly diehard fans and the term “straight edge” couldn’t have a stronger meaning with any other band than this one. Whether you’re fifteen years old and checking out the merch on Seventh Dagger and just now getting into Earth Crisis or you attended their shows in the 90s, the fan base for this band is 100 percent committed.
Don’t forget to check the site next week for a new top ten list!
Written by Josh S.
Photo provided by Google