Stanford Prison Experiment were a Los Angeles Post-Hardcore/Rock/Whatever-Cliche-Sub-Genre-You-Want-To-Call-It band.
Very influenced by Hardcore, Punk, & their respective "Post-" genres, SEP existed in the early 90's- early 00's, releasing 3 lp's and a handful of Ep's & singles. I caught this band in 1995 when they headlined a show at local legend Showcase Theatre that a friends band happened to have earned an opening slot on. They impressed live, reminding me of what I had genuinely loved about grunge music just 2-3 years before & having an energy and sound that still played to my newfound love of punk & hardcore music. Their second lp "The Gato Hunch" had just came out, so like any punk in high school in the mid-90's, I bought it on tape. I wore that tape out. It showed very hardcore guitar riffs, but still very distinctly drawing on a more decidedly post-hardcore sound. Crunchy & grooving guitars, distorted bass, shouted vocals that can calm into a spoken/singing, & drums that help to carry the whole thing along, SEP would pave the way for me personally to get into bands like Quicksand while still tying back to older grunge bands like the Melvins, that I had missed getting properly into at the time.
Wrecreation was their third & final lp, also their major-label debut for Island (after moving from World Domination for their self-titled & Gato Hunch lp's). Wrecreation is where the post-hardcore & Quicksand love comes to it's fullest. The crunchy guitars still appear, but have smoothed into more of a fluid sound. There's more of a stop/start to the sound of these songs, more of the spoken/singing style vocals, but still plenty of power. The album isn't entirely different from the previous record, but just a bit of a more mellow companion. In fact, the songs here tend to run shorter than the previous, delivering a punk energy to the progressive sound. The band plays a bit more with songs that start off with a catchy hook and build the song into an explosion about mid-way through. I very honestly alternate between listening to Gato Hunch first, followed by Wrecreation as a kind of counterbalance between the two and a playlist that still operates on the same idea, but just with the songs inter-mixed. Make no mistake, Wrecreation will still hit you, it'll just politely say "hello" before doing so.
The band would play with Quicksand (whom they became good friends with, releasing a split single at one point), Rage Against the Machine, and plenty of other bands from those bigger on the indie scene to bands like the Jesus Lizard.
Stand out tracks: (the Gato Hunch) You're the Vulgarian, So Far So Good, The Accomplice, Hardcore Idiot. Worst Case Scenario makes that list too, but it's quite a bit different, possibly showing the direction the band could have gone if they had gotten harder/more distorted as they went along.
(Wrecreation) Contusion, I'm A War, Machaca, & Hightower.
*I've also included their self-titled, first LP. It is my least favorite of theirs, but it isn't unlistenable. Like many bands, its some of their earliest stuff and it shows when compared to the growth the band made on later releases. It features a track (Written Apology) that would resurface on Wrecreation.
A band who certainly flew under a lot of radars, enjoy!
DOWNLOAD: Stanford Prison Experiment - the Gato Hunch
Stanford Prison Experiment - Wrecreation
Stanford Prison Experiment - Self-Titled
SEP Facebook (fan run) | Old SEP web page | Myspace Page
*PS- any of out there who might have their Cansado EP (or anything else) get in touch. I only have these albums. I'm very curious to hear their Gang of Four cover.