This Is Hardcore: Sick Of It All – Scratch The Surface

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For any fan of heavy music in the ’90s, Sick Of It All’s ‘Scratch The Surface’ was the album punks and metal heads alike could get behind without compromising their musical roots. It brought enough streetwise attitude to stay true to hardcore tradition, yet packed a strong enough punch to prick up the ears of the ever-expanding metal community.

Sick Of It All's Lou Koller at Bradford Rio's, circa 1995

Sick Of It All's Lou Koller at Bradford Rio's, circa 1995
(Image: © Naki/Redferns)

Even though New York Hardcore in the ’90s lacked the prolific bands that established the movement as a cultural phenomenon, Sick Of It All’s NYHC stylings shine through on tracks like Insurrection and Goatless. After all, back in the late ’80s Sick of it All were cutting their teeth playing with pioneering acts like Gorilla Biscuits and Youth Of Today. A deal with a major label didn’t mean sacrificing a set of beliefs that had been at the heart of their music for nearly a decade.

Scratch The Surface’s stand out single Step Down delivers hardcore’s underlying mentality in the form of a punk rock anthem. In case their new fans didn’t know the basics Lou Koller was more than prepared to give them a lesson: ‘In the underground, integrity lies within. ‘In the underground, image doesn’t mean a thing.’

As if the lyrics weren’t enough, the accompanying video, though quite tongue in cheek in places, also served as a beginners guide to hardcore etiquette. Overnight, the MTV generation were being schooled in NYHC dance moves and were even introduced to the term ‘emo’.

For more information on Sick Of It All, visit their official site.