Thursday, October 8, 2009

Favorite Chain Of Strength 7" poll results

Curtis, Alex and Frosty at City Gardens, Trenton NJ, 1990, Photo: Ken Salerno

Chain Of Strength aren't the "heaviest" hardcore band, they don't have traditional NY-inspired mosh parts, and the songs aren't that complex or technically ridiculous.

They are, however, what I would consider to be one of the most powerful hardcore bands to have existed. Power...

True Till Death is a raw, practically unmixed, in your face recording that is really just a vocals-low-in-the-mix demo, and yet it captures the band in a way so few recordings actually do - it's that perfect mix of aggression, urgency, and proficiency, a band being captured while they have a comfort with their songs, but not so much that it feels rehearsed or staged (ahem, cue comments about staged photos). Plus, it sounds like they are playing in a small room with good acoustics, and you are standing there getting your motherfucking brains blown out while you try to dodge guitars, a bass, and flying drum equipment. Oh did I mention these are probably the best Straight Edge Hardcore lyrics, set to the best Straight Edge Hardcore songs ever written? Do me a favor.....

Forget about it. (Credit due to Ed McKirdy for that one).

Chris Bratton with Chain Of Strength at Spanky's, Riverside CA, Photo: Dave Sine

What Holds Us Apart is probably the best example of natural progression over the course of 1.5 years a no-frills hardcore band can make without becoming too daring, too ambiguous, or too "over it." There's more precision, more depth, more overall influence and drive, and yet never is it at the expense of POWER. It has a touch more DC, a touch more Brian Baker, and a touch more 1989-while-wearing-Stussy-tanktops-and-hanging-in-Cali...but never so much as to pull away from the hardcore Chain sound, and never is there any second guessing who these songs were written by.

I could go on for days - one of my favorite bands hands down. For me, True Till Death three times out of five. But those other two times, What Holds Us Apart is even better.

If you don't like Chain Of Strength, it's gonna cause problems. That simple. -Gordo DCXX

Chain Of Strength at the Country Club in Reseda CA, Photo: Dave Sine

There's not a whole lot left for me to say that Gordo hasn't said already. Anybody that knows me, knows just how much I bow to the alter of the almighty Chain. The True Till Death 7" is… yeah, I can say this with confidence, my favorite hardcore 7" ever... point blank. Flawless from start to finish, musically, lyrically and aesthetically, perfection. Are the vocals a little low? Yeah, a tad, but it's nothing that even bothers me a little bit.

As for the What Holds Us Apart 7", it is total greatness and an unquestionable favorite, but will always take the back seat to the True Till Death 7" for me.

Like Gordo, I as well could go on for days about how mind blowing, life altering and phenomenal both of these records are, but we'll save something up for future entries. And yes, expect many, many more Chain entries. -Tim DCXX

Chain Of Strength with that desperate tone, Photo: Dave Sine

Chain Of Strength - True Till Death - 185
Chain Of Strength - What Holds Us Apart - 136

Alex Pain with Chain at Spanky's, Photo: Dave Sine


InlandEmpire said...

"If you don't like Chain Of Strength, it's gonna cause problems."

Great Line!!!

Agree with the poll results, but both are major wins. One of the best live bands I have ever seen in 25 years (this November) of going to gigs. Hail CoS!!!

Anonymous said...

oh man, that first pic... it wasn't just the violent meat heads that brought an end, (or at least put a major speedbump in the road) to the hardcore we once knew and loved of the late 80's, but it was also the gross amount of apathy that infiltrated the scene at the time. it seemed that the majority of new(er) participants were concerned about one of two things - either beating the shit out of innocent bystanders, or becoming/emulating a "hardcore fashonista". and i have to say, cos (esp. alex) exemplified the later to a t in my opinion. there were always violent characters in the scene, but it was the whole "fashion show" aspect of the late 80's-early 90's that really threw me for a loop. it just came out of left field! $80 girbaud jeans, silk shirts, pointy dress shoes... wtf! i didn't know if i was at a cb's matinee or webster hall sometimes. the bands, the music, the message, it just became a backdrop to the goons and their ulterior motives. it didn't go completely unchecked, walter of course wrote "figured out", but for the most part, it fell on deaf/dumb ears. as for chain (i've gotten way off point), their music/message always seemed to take a back seat to their posturing on stage. don't get me wrong, there were other bands out there going the same route, but cos always seemed to be at the forefront of all things "fashionable" aka corny. hairdo-check, wardrobe selection-check, tan- check, laughing stock of late 80's hc - check!

Anonymous said...

those two "circle storm" songs they did kick ass too. that might actually be my favorite recording.

Brett Hardware said...

I find it hard to fathom that anyone would, or could, like that second 7" over TTD.

Anonymous said...

"laughing stock of late 80's hc - check!" = right on the money.

Chain were a fucking joke in California. No one I knew liked them because they were so contrived.

ERIC SXE said...

Well as usual, I'm going against the grain of all this COS hate. I loved that band. Their look, their sound, the whole thing. I love both 7"s. I was pissed when REVELATION released the CD and they had remixed/cleaned up the sound. I liked the raw original sound and didn't want it messed with. That was fucked up. Fortunately, finding MP3's of the original mixes of the two records is easy online.

They made their mark with only TWO records and people are still listening to them and buying the shirts. They must have done something right or else they would be just a footnote in HC history. They broke up in 1991 and we're still talking about them in 2009.

Tomas said...

True till death is such a bad tune. Damn, I hate that one. Love all other material though, including the Circle Storm EP.

Anonymous said...

The guy in the Chain of Strength shirt next to Alex doing his posi jump is Josh who was in Forced Down/What She Said.

Anonymous said...

Chain rhymes with Lame. West Coast had very little love for these kids. Ryan drove a Porshe to shows. The Stussy and Dep hair gel crimes were abundant. At least Bratton got slapped with that slice of Pizza by Pete Koller to even the score some.

These kids were working against what real core kids were trying achieve. And faster than they could drop that X from their "classic" t shirt and start selling out they were old news.

Cant get on bored (spelled wrong on purpose because they were boring!).

Andrew said...

Everyone I know on the West Coast were all Chain fans!
Some of my earliest shows we're traveling out to Riverside to catch these guys...
Fuck the haters...
Both 7 inches are classics!

Anonymous said...


creepr said...

If you dont like Justice League its gonna cause problems.

IMO JL is at least 4000 times better than Chain is everyway.

Anonymous said...

Who Cares what shoes they wore what gel they used (dep) etc. they were just kids when the did that shit! (lets see your 80's high school pics?) there only human . What matters is what they left behind on wax to influence a whole new group of people for a long time to come even after all the haters are dead and gone.People focus too much on the individuals . look at it for what it is 2 great 7inches.

mikeo said...

Nice write-ups, guys. I see I'm almost a year late on this post, but what the hell, COS has been gone for nearly 20.

Despite the stories (both bad rumors that hurt their reputation and truths that discredited their sincerity), I absolutely LOVE Chain of Strength, and both records hold a lot of great memories for me. I love the low-vocal mix of TTD - combined with his all-out throaty vocals, I always thought it made him sound like he was singing with extra force so he could be heard above the music. And What Holds... was, as you said, a great progression, but not one that redefined the band. It just presented the same kind of energy with a more clear sound.

I don't like the discog that Rev released. The new mixes suck, in my opinion. I personally prefer my rips of the original mixes, in the original song order, just the way I remember when I was cranking them 20 years ago in my bedroom.

Great site, guys. Much appreciated.