As somewhat of a hardcore newbie, it’s been fun to branch out in my free time and dive into the history of hardcore. I recently watched the documentary Godfathers of Hardcore, which documents the rich history of New York hardcore act Agnostic Front. Agnostic Front is a massive component of what hardcore is today, along with the likes of Minor Threat and many other punk/metal influenced groups of the 90s and early 2000s. At the most recent show I attended, I came across a fan with a shirt with the words “Backtrack” stamped across the back. I thought to myself (as I do many of times at shows), I wonder who that is. I have been a somewhat sheltered hardcore fan for the past couple of years, and grasping onto acts in such a dense genre can be tough. Little did I know that New York hardcore band Backtrack is a legend that stands alone.
It hit me like a sack of rocks when I released that Backtrack was a crowd favorite. I could see why. I drew comparisons between that raw, fast NYHC sound that Agnostic Front embraces and found it easily visible in Backtrack’s material. I began digging through the discography when I came across Bad To My World, an album that spoke to me instantly. I loved the title and I thought the album artwork was incredible. From the first track, I was addicted. These guys play music like it’s a gift, not a task. This is what I always imagined hardcore would be and more. Bad To My World opened my eyes to a different side of music I have never experienced before. My thoughts on this album are immense with praise, so let’s get straight to the review.
Bad To My World hit shelves in 2017 via Bridge 9 Records. This ten-track testament of NYHC is just over 20 minutes long. It’s fast-paced and keeps you on the edge of your seat, so it is just the perfect amount of time to squeeze into your daily commute. “War” is the first track and sets the pace immediately. This track was my first ever Backtrack song, so believe me when I say in hindsight that this is just the tip of the iceberg. “One With You” follows in style, layering this album perfectly together. “One With You” is a stellar track both lyrically and instrumentally. It takes talent to piece together fantastic riffs with equally great lyrics, and “One With You” is THAT song. Oh boy, you will love the ending to this song. Backtrack pits have to be absolutely nuts. The title track, “Bad To My World”, is the third song that kicks off with a fun bass line and begins to set the tone for the album as a whole. “Bad To My World” fits perfectly here.
“I’m healing from the other side of misery, and I locked that part of me away.” – Backtrack, “The Deep is Calling”
Next on the list we have “The Deep is Calling”, laying the foundation ever so beautifully for what is to come. There’s a really fun breakdown in this one that is really catchy and unique. “Dead At The Core” is smacked right in the middle of this album and it’s ready to smack you. No, seriously. At this point in the album, you realize what you’re in for. Buckle up now if you haven’t already. Hm, and here comes “Cold-Blooded”. I cannot believe that this song and “Gutted” are right here next to each other on such an enjoyable listen so far. “Cold-Blooded” is a fitting title to this track, as it send shivers down your spine with its up-tempo riff structure. Put simply, it’s a two-step anthem. “Gutted” is the hardest thing here. Period. I cannot even translate the intensity this song brings. Slam dance galore is here and I can only wish I was in a New York club for this one.
We’re not dropping off here. “Crooks Die Slow” brings yet another hard hitting breakdown. By this point, I had already established these guys as heavyweights. You might think, “wow, that was fast.” Well yeah, that’s the point. “Never Ending Web” comes in at track number nine and prepares the blueprint to come full-circle with “Sanity”. Check out the music video for this one above and let us know what you think in the comments of both the track and this album. I dig the NYHC roots in “Sanity”, which are embodied in this album as a whole. Bad To My World is an extremely impressive showing from the legendary Backtrack. It gets better with each listen and truly testifies for New York hardcore as an iconic album. All signs are indicating that Backtrack is close to the end here in 2019, so check them out on social media here and be sure to get out to a show before the legends call it a wrap. Thanks for reading and don’t forget to stream Bad To My World now. If you love it as much as I did or just love merch, click here and support these guys by buying some sick threads!