True to its title, the split album Working Class Heroes
features the street-level fist-in-the-air anthems of N.Y.C. hardcore stalwarts Agnostic Front
and Dutch street punks Discipline. Recorded live at a 2001 gig together in Belgium, the record is pretty much as one would expect -- the sonic equivalent of a sweaty, teeming mosh pit of dudes with shaved heads and wife beaters pushing and stomping their way through a never-ending assault of fiery hardcore. The first part of the album is basically Roger Miret
furiously barking out lyrics of politics and scene solidarity, even going so far as to tell people to disregard the rappers supposedly invading his hometown turf since their music is nothing but "fucking bullshit" that doesn't interest hardcore. You can practically see his vitriol-filled spit fly. As the packed crowd responds with throaty yells at every belted note, it's quite obvious that Agnostic Front
's reach from atop the N.Y. hardcore heap goes far beyond the Bowery's cracked sidewalks on the Eastern Seaboard. Their set is fine for fans who can't get enough of the group (though they'd probably be just as well served by the band's 1989 Live at CBGB
album), but the real highlight comes on the record's second half with the more Oi!-leaning hardcore sounds of Discipline. Maybe it's because you can't beat the incensed backing "Oi!s" filling every other song or the guitars that scorch the air with passion, but whatever it is, their set is fueled by an intense electricity that transferred much better to record than that of AF
's set. You can just feel the hot-blooded vigor surging through the crowd on songs like "Young & Reckless," "Nice Boys Finish Last," "Hooligans Heaven," and even the relatively sentimental "These Streets." Though Discipline measure up as equal to (if not better than) their American counterparts at this show, both bands make Working Class Heroes
about the closest thing to getting a boot in the face short of actually being in the pit. And who can complain about that?