Progression Through Unlearning




1997 was kind of the last legit year for alternative underground heavy music.  Once Korn's popularity exploded with the mainstream success of Follow The Leader in 1998, practically all the new heavy bands that arrived in the wake of that all had a somewhat corrupted, contrived, generically radio-friendly stench about them to one degree or another.  In other words, Nu-Metal happened, and although not all Nu-Metal bands were terrible, the vast majority of them were (or at least derivative/mediocre), and whatever freshness that characterized the unique swagger and attitude that epitomized early/mid 90s alt-metal/punk/hardcore quickly became diluted by all the corporate copycat bands that came out of the woodwork at the tail end of the decade.

I reflect on that because listening to Snapcase's best album Progression Through Unlearning kind of harkens back to a more pure time for heavy music in the 90s.  Granted, at it's core, this is a classic NYHC album through and through, but there are some metallic inclinations to the music as well, and most importantly, there is a certain rhythmic grind and groove to the music that adds to it's unique swagger.  It's the type of cathartic energy that would be exploited and molded into the type of contrived, formulaic package that was the hallmark of most Nu-Metal bands to come in the future, but here on Progression Through Unlearning you get to witness it in all it's uncorrupted underground glory.  

Simply put, there is no bullshit on this album.  There are no songs that are trying to appeal to a broader audience or commercial radio, and that's the beauty of it.  It's just pure, unbridled, aggressive music, true to the spirit of the NYHC scene.  Bands like Vision of Disorder and Hatebreed (and to a lesser extent, Strife) were representing that scene hard around this time, providing a more hardcore punk-infused alternative to the West Coast sound of Korn, Deftones, Far, 16, etc.  Some of those bands went on to have more "success" than others, but most of them inevitably carved out their own niche, their own identifiable sound over time, but back in 1997, they all kind of fit under the same umbrella from my prospective.  And that was the umbrella of underground alternative-heavy music. Music that was hard, aggressive, intense, and cooked up some of the wickedest pits imaginable.  

Progression Through Unlearning is one of the best heavy albums of 1997, and perhaps more importantly, has mountains more cred, heart, and integrity than 99% of the all the heavy bands that attained significantly more "success" and notoriety in the years shortly after it's release.

An overlooked classic in the genre.


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