Born Too Soon by S.C.U.M is the classic Montreal hardcore record you need

“If you’re looking for politically charged, call-to-arms hardcore, this is as good as it gets.”

Did I get your attention? To mangle a Bukowski quote to suit my needs, “I wouldn’t say I hate cops, it’s just I feel a lot better when they aren’t around.” With most people now possessing cameras in their pocket, police forces are being kept in check a bit more, but not too long ago, the only defence you had against police oppression and violence was protesting in numbers, organizing locally and good ol’ tubthumping.

In the ’80s, you just weren’t a tried and true hardcore band unless you had at least two anti-cop songs squeezed into your 30-song, 15-minute set. One of my favourite Canadian hardcore records of the ’80s was Born Too Soon by local hardcore legends S.C.U.M. — who indeed took the Montreal police force to task as part of their anti-cop crusade. Originally released on Montreal label Psyche Industry at the tail end of 1985, this absolute classic MTLHC record gets a gussied up vinyl re-mastering by killer reissue California label Porterhouse. This new version is absolutely crushing and is guaranteed to rattle the windows with newfound gusto. 

1985 was a rough year for hardcore as most bands merely stepped up the tempos into an unrecognizable blur or just aped metal riffage within the newly hatched crossover genre. Within one year, the heart had just been ripped out of hardcore. By ’85, Swans, Sonic Youth and most of the Touch and Go roster were clearly ahead of the pack leaving most hardcore bands to just pick up the pieces. One of the only unquestionable “hardcore” records that could still remain fresh while retaining hardcore’s touchstones, heart and principles was S.C.U.M.’s Born Too Soon. Even decades later, this record is positively seething with white hot rage, its blood still pumping strong. S.C.U.M’s name was a clear thorn in the side of the MUC (Montreal Urban Community police, as it was then called), whose insignia was bastardized by the band. When singer Anthony Mark screams, “It’s war between us and the M.U.C./cops hate us and won’t let us be,” it still cuts right to the marrow — take that, Ice Cube. The battle against cop oppression continues with searing shrapnel like “Exit Death” and “Pyramid Mall Blues,” while other ragers take aim on drug dependency and the good old hardcore staples of war and religion. If you’re looking for politically charged, call-to-arms hardcore, this is as good as it gets. 

But as barbed and righteous as the lyrics are — does the album really rock? In short, fuck yeah. S.C.U.M. absolutely obliterate with a mid-tempo attack that levels everything in its path like a Panzer tank. S.C.U.M was not a band looking over its shoulder at the thrashers of the day, preferring to remain true to themselves. This is why Born Too Soon still sounds as fresh today as it did almost 40 years ago. In a ballsy song sequence move, the band truly challenges with record opener “Home Away From Home,” a magnum opus that has more to do with prog rock than garden variety Maximum RockNRoll spew. Truthfully I still think their skater anthem “Pool Hunt” would’ve made more sense on the cutting room floor, but outside of that, this record should provide the perfect soundtrack to your next cop-car torching. 

Born Too Soon by S.C.U.M is the classic Montreal hardcore record you need

Current Obsession: S.C.U.M, Born Too Soon

S.C.U.M’s Born Too Soon is available exclusively at Sound Central (4486 Coloniale) in Montreal

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