Halo Eight // 1999 // 87 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Daryl Loomis // October 22nd, 2008
I got a lotta tattoos, but I ain't no tough guy.
During the summer of 1995, filmmaker Frank Pavich followed seven bands from the New York area to see the lifestyle and find the meaning behind hardcore music. N.Y.H.C. is a loud, raucous, do-it-yourself documentary that shows the bands playing their music at its pinnacle. Through interviews and concert footage with seven bands, including the groundbreaking (and personal favorite) Agnostic Front and younger acts like Madball, Murphy's Law, and 25 ta Life, it is easy to see the variance of attitude and perspective, all built around the unity of one style of music.
Hardcore music is an inclusive scene where all the bands go to each other's shows and fans of the music go to all of them. In this film, the people are significantly more important than the music. Although in the special features, some of the musicians lament the decision to highlight the interviews over the concert footage, the film is well served for doing so. It allows us to see the bands as people instead of focusing on music that, often, is of dubious quality. They work hard and love what they do, each working construction and other day jobs to make ends meet. Almost universally a self-deprecating bunch, they often talk about how their band is the worst of the scene and , as fans, push their own favorites. This shows the unity that these acts have together and proves what they sing about. The lyrics are often aggressive, but they tend to involve standing up for yourself and your friends, not letting outside forces get in the way of their your vision, and staying true to what you believe in.
At least on the surface, they practice what they preach, even if what they preach varies greatly from one band to the next. Some avow a healthy-living, vegetarian lifestyle; some have discovered the teachings of the Hare Krishna. Most retain the anti-establishment message that punk music carries, but those in the hardcore scene are not sheep, following the status quo established by the genre. Hardcore doesn't carry an ethos like Straight Edge punk and others profess, making it ultimately a much more honest music scene that cares about the music far more than it cares about looking the part. This is a live-and-let-live kind of world, one that allows everyone from any walk of life to embrace whatever makes them happy under a banner of one kind of music.
Halo 8 has released an excellent 2-Disc set full of extras. The full-frame presentation is sometimes a little spotty, but this is to be expected from a shot-on-video documentary from 10 years ago at this budget level. The stereo sound, however, is very good. The interviews are at a normal volume and are very clear while the concert footage is turned up a notch. You won't have to scramble for the volume button when the interviews return. The extras are copious and span both discs. The first disc, alongside the feature, contains about two hours of deleted and extended scenes along with additional concert footage. A very good commentary with director Frank Pavich, producer Stephen Scarlata, and founder of SFT Records, Kevin Gill, who also plays a large role in the feature, rounds out the disc. The second disc contains a short feature with Lou Koller of the famed hardcore band Sick of It All and The Last Rites of CBGB, which focuses on the closing of the legendary club that gave rise to not only hardcore music, but heavy independent music of all stripes. Finishing off the set is a series of updated interviews, most done in the last couple of years for the DVD release. It's very interesting to see how these kids grew up and how, really, their attitudes toward the world and toward their music have changed very little. For any fan of hardcore music, N.Y.H.C is a fine documentary with enough supplements to keep you slam dancing until there are holes in all your walls.
Review content copyright © 2008 Daryl Loomis; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Halo Eight
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 87 Minutes
Release Year: 1999
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Audio Commentary
* Deleted scenes
* Live performances
* Updated interviews