Sunday, 14 December 2014

Cause for Alarm - Beyond Birth and Death (Warzone Split)

I figured now is as good a time as any to make some actual Krishnacore-related posts. And really, there is no better place to start than Cause for Alarm's split with Warzone. This absolutely classic piece of old school hardcore history came out on Victory Records in 1995. This was a great time for hardcore, with Victory amidst its heyday being the 100% hardcore label, to the point that if it was out on Victory, you'd know it was good. So here's how I was first introduced to Krishnacore...

When I first set my eyes on this piece of 10" vinyl back in the day, I went straight ahead and bought it without second thought for two main reasons: 1. Warzone were the kings of worldwide underground hardcore that hardcore kids of the day worshipped and 2. I instantly fell in love with Cause for Alarm's side of the cover. I mean, ok I already knew that CFA was an important hardcore band and sure I wanted to check them out. But somehow, this picture just completely drew me in and it made me want to know more about whatever this stuff was.

I later learned that this classic ISKCON painting known as 'the chariot of the body', and represents the devotee's efforts to withdraw from the world of the five senses and try to control one's earthly desires. The whole scene comes from the Bhagavad Gita and Arjuna's helpless cry to Krishna: "The mind is restless, turbulent, obstinate and very strong, O Krishna". I guess this is something we can all relate to no matter our stage of advancement in spiritual pursuits.

OK, so let's get back to the actual record and talk a little bit about what is sounds like. The Cause for Alarm contains four tracks of quintessential hardcore the old school way. There is not a single moment of filler, just all out, straight on old school hardcore punk with Keith Burkhardt's trademark vocals. We get mostly fast hardcore energy, but with a considerable amount of mid-paced groove provided by Tony Scaglione (Whiplash). Let's also note that guitar duties were executed by hardcore legend Alex Kinon (Agnostic Front). CFA's style of hardcore may be simply branded as old school, but that doesn't mean it's not fairly technical, with a slight touch of metal and some intricate song structures.

The original album comes without a lyric sheet, so for non native speakers (like me), understanding the lyrics takes a bit of an effort. However, the song titles and some repeated listens make it easy to understand that lyrics on this album are all about spirituality and freedom from material life's misery. Yes, the lyrics somewhat scoff at a life filled with material problems, but the whole message is conveyed in a spiritual and positive way. Every song has a few catchy lines that stand out, grabbing the listener and making him/her think that these guys surely know what they are talking about, and that there is shelter in a more spiritual, conscious life.

Cause for Alarm continued to be an important band for 90s hardcore through their on/off career. There are more quality albums and eps definitely talking about, which I'll get to later. In its own right, this CFA/Warzone split is super important for another reason: it introduced Krishna consciousness to many unexpecting hardcore kids who were just into Warzone, punk rock, skinhead culture and the whole prevalent hardcore lifestyle of those times. And yes, Warzone's side is equally amazing and filled with great hardcore tunes!

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