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All Out War’s For Those Who Were Crucified turns 15

There’s a scene in the fantastic film Swimming With Sharks where Frank Whaley’s character, a newbie movie studio underling, is asked “why do you want this?” His reply: “Memories.” Most people can point to moments in time that defined who they would later become, what paths their lives would take, etc. Music is hardwired to our memories, perhaps more than anything else. There’s the first favorite song, or maybe an album that served as the soundtrack to loss, pain or joy. When it comes to metal and extreme music, everyone knows who brought them to the dance.

In 1998, I started my junior year of high school after attending my first “underground” show (Skinless and Straight Jacket) over the summer, which led to catching rides with older kids to any show I could. This was late ‘90s Connecticut, so hardcore and its metallic variants ruled the roost. One band I kept hearing about was All Out War from upstate NY. They were putting out a new album on Victory, and I made sure to catch the school bus going into town the Tuesday it came out; Tuesday, October 13th, to be precise.

I put the CD on the second I got home, and it didn’t leave my shelf stereo for what, looking back now, seems like months. The opening rumble of “Soaked In Torment” was like aural Red Bull, and that song alone was background to many a dumb teenage idea. The title track continued the “Slayer riff” theme, matching the familiar tri-tones with NYHC chugs and breakdowns begging for dangerous pits. Lyrically, All Out War was like no other hardcore band I had heard (metallic or otherwise) and remains so, even today. The themes throughout For Those Who Were Crucified
dealt with supernatural elements, namely apocalyptic battles between angels and demons. Years later the allegories and metaphors became clearer, but at the time it was just badass.

Reflecting on it now, there is nothing particularly game-changing about the album. It did stand out among other releases of the era in terms of production value, songwriting and incorporating metal influences from the darker end of the spectrum. In terms of influence, you can hear the connection in everything from Hatebreed to Heaven Shall Burn. In a case of coming full circle, there is a hidden track at the end of the album (“Drowning In Damnation”) that has a full-on death metal tilt; it was recently issued by the band as an exclusive flexi single at This Is Hardcore 2013. Fifteen years later my heart and soul are still woven into this music, and the catalyst for it all continues to crush.

— Chris Rowella

A reunited All Out War will perform at the IO-sponsored A389 Festival in January of 2014. You can find the details here.

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