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pop angela lewis

To plot the fortunes of New York's hardcore Sick of it All is virtually to unravel the development of NY hardcore itself since the mid-Eighties. Born in 1986 at a time when the scene was gaining muscle (literally). SOIA had to watch it dissolve in to violence - or as vocalist Lou Koller puts it, The Dark Ages.

Despite the slightly bolshy name, SOIA (right) were not and are not part of the fists-out aggro brigade - which unfortunately didn't stop a Chinese grade-A student from going on a shooting rampage wearing one of their T-shirts, dragging their name out for a few lurid headlines.

But the last few years have proved brighter. The clubs re-opened, the hardcore/rap hybrid emerged (Dog Eat Dog, Biohazard), and SOIA's contribution to the drive was a House-of-Pain remixed "Just Look Around". Now, like countless others, they've become beneficiaries of the major label buy-up of alternative rock. Not that it's softened them a jot. New album Scratch the Surface (East West) is the usual white-hot noise that has the body reeling from the hurricane energy while the mind soaks up the streetcore lyrics (no fascism, no woman-hating, no bad attitudes, and the world will be a better place).

The London show is long-awaited as they haven't visited since 1993. All there's been to go on are MTV snips of Scratch the Surface. "People are jumping around going crazy but everyone has a smile on their face, having a good time," says Lou. "That is what hardcore is about. In some supposed hardcore videos, everybody's angry, there are fist-fights going on...that's all a small aspect of hardcore. Hardcore is about ganging together and having a good time."

Sick of it All, 15 Jan, London Marquee, WC2 (071-437 6603)