As I see it, Born Against’s significance as a band is best encapsulated in the fact that they’re not so unique- in a good way. In many ways, they act as the perfect example of that odd zeitgeist of hardcore, political, extreme punk from NYC in the late 80’s that provided such a powerful base for subgenres of the early 90’s to build upon. Unadulterated and furious, Born Against are better known for the message behind their music than for the tunes themselves. This is one reason that an album comprised entirely of tracks from B-Sides, splits, radio appearances and compilations happens to be their most defining output. It’s hardly even semi-coherent in terms of flow and organization, but the consistent sense of ire and radical, politically-leftist agenda is the binding force behind The Rebel Sound Of *** And Failure
, exemplifying the “thematic-over-sonic” notion.Oppositely, it’s also noisy and distortion-laden; the riffs obscure many of the shouted lyrics. The Rebel Sound
is a muddy mix between grunge a la Cows and Helmet and the distorted, uber-hardcore punk exemplified by bands like Gorilla Biscuit and Agnostic Front. Though the lyrics can sometimes be laughable (see: the sheer lunacy of “Lillian”) as Born Against are so pissed off they sometimes stretch their viewpoints far past the line of reason (they had a sense of humor, but it’s difficult to tell where it is and isn’t utilized), this only adds to the sense that The Rebel Sound
is somewhat of a microcosm for this particular scene.
The fact that Born Against laid the ground for early 90’s emotional hardcore (some of its best products, even), among other styles, is evidenced in that band members would later go on to form Moss Icon and Universal Order Of Armageddon- two defining acts in their own right. Still, one can’t but help to appreciate the enticing passionate and fanatical approach to this hardcore punk band. Devoid of coherency and overflowing with wailing-for-wailing’s-sake, The Rebel Sound
personifies the aforementioned zeitgeist not by being the best, most critically-acclaimed, or most apt band to be born from it, but by displaying its ugliness and occasional lunacy so prominently.