According to an informal count, press releases accompanying four out of five hardcore albums this year have referenced mid-'80s New York Hardcore, the movement that spawned NYC's Sick of It All in 1984. Tattooed, close-cropped, and pissed, SOIA helped keep the hardcore flame alive between the end of the golden age in 1986 and the modern-day renaissance. The band goes back so far that it released classic albums on old-school bastions Revelation and Combat Records, and now records for next-generation punk-wellspring Fat Wreck Chords. Some things never completely go out of style, but that's not always good.
Sick of It All's shows have always tended to be incredibly violent -- sadly, it's still a reliable litmus test for how intense any kind of extreme music is. The band's recorded work never reached the nadirs that some of its peers hit, and the new Life on the Ropes crunches and crushes at a standard that just isn't a reasonable expectation for a band its age. The unflappable vets remind audiences of all ages that hardcore, at its best, is more than just heavy thrash.