Was 2022 the summer of hardcore? Yes, maybe, I don’t know, but it was definitely the summer that brought what many are calling the biggest US hardcore festival ever, Sound and Fury, the summer that the New York Times did a podcast episode on hardcore, the summer that hardcore videographer and YouTube channel hate5six was profiled in both Rolling Stone and The New Yorker, and a summer that birthed a lot of great new hardcore releases. If you’d like to find some of the best ones in one place, we’ve rounded up a list of 10 that came out between June and August that are not to miss. Even these 10 are just a small sample size, so let us know your favorites in the comments. Read on for the list, in alphabetical order…
Anklebiter – Demo 2022
Sunday Drive Records
As I wrote in my track review of “Red Tones,” Anklebiter share members with Broken Vow and Pummel and they make no-nonsense hardcore that they say pulls from early/mid 2000s Lockin Out Records bands like Mental, Righteous Jams, and RZL DZL. They’re not reinventing the form or anything, but Anklebiter know how to do this kinda thing really well and they know how to make it feel fresh. They’ve got just the right balance of groove, melody, and aggression, and with “Red Tones,” they’ve got a vivid title and concept that came to lead shouter Rachael Braverman when they least expected it. “‘Red Tones’ was a track I wrote while I was freaking out. I was mad and seeing red, my brain felt like it wasn’t even there,” Rachael told No Echo. “‘Misplaced all inside my head/Things around me turn to red tones’ came out of that and then I just built on how I felt from there.” The rest of the EP is just as gratifying.
Candy – Heaven Is Here
Candy became one of hardcore’s buzziest bands with 2018’s Good To Feel (Triple B Records), which led them to signing to Relapse (and putting out a two-song single) the following year. Since then, a pandemic happened, the entire genre of hardcore’s profile rose significantly, and Candy remained relatively quiet, save for a few support tours. Needless to say, the world that Candy are releasing Heaven Is Here into is much different than the world they released Good To Feel into, and Candy are a much different band now too. It was safe to call Good To Feel a hardcore album, but Heaven Is Here defies genre entirely, moving seamlessly between hardcore, punk, thrash, sludge, noise, industrial, electronics, and more. It’s an album that shares DNA with anything from Converge to Full of Hell to Code Orange to Power Trip, and it’s just as uncompromising as all of those bands.
End It – Unpleasant Living EP
End It hail from the thriving hardcore scene that is Baltimore, home of Turnstile (who they’ve opened for), Angel Du$t/Trapped Under Ice (whose vocalist Justice Tripp guests on this new EP), and other current greats, and they recorded this new EP with local engineer Kevin Bernsten (Pianos Become the Teeth, Praise, Full of Hell, etc). They’re clearly in good company, and they stand out from all of their peers with a refreshing vibe that doesn’t really sound like anyone else in their scene. Unpleasant Living has five proper songs and an intro track that have a sense of humor and a serious side, that are as aggressive as they are fun, as catchy as they are confrontational. And really driving things home is vocalist Akil Godsey, who has a ton of charisma and an infectious delivery. In a genre that’s too often littered with dime-a-dozen idol worshippers, End It stand out by entirely being themselves.
Fixation – The Secrets We Keep
Philly hardcore band Fixation (who share members with Chemical Fix, Wild Red, Drowse, and Action News) have EPs and promos dating back to 2017, but in 2020 they revamped their lineup with new vocalist Wyatt Oberholzer, who had previously recorded the band (and was also behind the boards for records by Year of the Knife, Soul Glo, Shackled, Gridiron, Ecostrike, Worn, and many others). Wyatt made his debut on the band’s three-song 2020 promo, and now those songs plus eight others make up Fixation’s first full-length, The Secrets We Keep. Fixation’s influences veer towards the darker side of hardcore, anything from Samhain to ’90s AFI to 2000s bands like American Nightmare and Blacklisted, and that sets the perfect backdrop for Wyatt’s deeply personal lyrics. His delivery is vicious yet impassioned; a lot of aggressive bands like to point fingers, but, true to its title, The Secrets We Keep directs all of Fixation’s fury inwards.
Fugitive – Maniac EP
20 Buck Spin
Power Trip lead guitarist Blake Ibanez said in a recent interview with Banger TV that he had a new project on the way, and hinted that it picked up where Power Trip’s final album Nightmare Logic left off. And, while obviously nothing can replace Power Trip or their much-missed frontman Riley Gale, the debut EP by Blake’s new band Fugitive makes very good on the promise he made in that interview. For this band, he’s joined by Skourge vocalist Seth Gilmore, along with members of Creeping Death, Impalers, and more, and the four original songs (and cover of Bathory’s “Raise the Dead”) on their debut offering Maniac really do pick up where Power Trip’s thrash/hardcore blend left off. And while comparisons to Blake’s beloved former band are inevitable, Fugitive already do stand out as a beast of their own. There’s a little more death metal in the mix, and Seth’s gnarly scream goes great with Blake’s crisp guitar style. It’s a brief EP, but I’m hoping Fugitive are in it for the long haul; this is some of the most fun metal/punk crossover I’ve heard in a minute.
Gel / Cold Brats – Shock Therapy
NJ hardcore band Gel have been on a deservingly swift rise since releasing last year’s Violent Closure EP, one of the best short punk releases of the year, and they just keep getting better. They’ve got four new songs (including last year’s “Mental Static” single) on a new split with Romanian band Cold Brats, and they’re all rippers, all fiery examples of Gel’s ability to blur the lines between militant hardcore and grimy psychedelic garage punk. Cold Brats lean even more overtly on the garage punk side, with four new songs of their own that sound closer to the new OSEES album than to most of the current hardcore scene. It’s fun to hear bands bringing back the more straight-up punk side of hardcore after years of the metallic side being a more dominant form, and this split is great example.
Ithaca – They Fear Us
UK band Ithaca’s 2019 debut LP The Language of Inquiry arrived just as the “metalcore revival” was gaining widespread attention, and it was the perfect time for that record, which proudly borrowed from the early 2000s Ferret/Trustkill Records sound that had been considered deeply uncool by tastemakers for two decades. Well, tastemakers be damned, that shit is everywhere again, and as with most revivals, the best bands are taking things far beyond just imitating their heroes. That’s very true of Ithaca’s sophomore album They Fear Us, one of the most inventive metalcore releases I’ve heard this year. More so than Ithaca’s debut, the new album finds singer Djamila Yasmin Azzouz balancing out her vicious screams with clean-sung vocals powerful enough to fill an arena. On one hand, Ithaca offer up brutal mathcore chaos, and on the other, they seem unabashedly in love with radio-friendly pop. The final song even brings in shiny electronics that sound closer to The xx than to a metal band. The end result is even more antagonizing than a band that’s just aggressive; Ithaca have figured out how to alienate “regular” people and metal purists all at once. It’s the perfect musical backdrop for the album’s lyrical themes, which are often about reclaiming power — both personally and societally — and getting vengeance on those who want to strip you of it. What better musical backdrop for challenging masculine power structures than an album that fucks with the formula of a too-often-male-dominated genre?
Spaced – Spaced Jams
New Morality Zine
If you pay attention to underground hardcore, you probably know that Spaced are one of the most talked-about bands in the scene right now. They hail from the hardcore epicenter of Buffalo (and gained the attention of Buffalo hardcore veteran Scott Vogel, whose band Buried Alive brought out Spaced vocalist Lexi Reyngoudt on stage at Every Time I Die’s final ‘Tid the Season), and their 2021 demo was called one of the year’s best by members of Scowl and Taking Meds. They’ve been touring like crazy lately, playing shows with other current hardcore staples like Gel, Broken Vow, and Shackled, and they’ve also been tapped to open for bigger bands like New Found Glory and Comeback Kid. They call themselves “far out hardcore,” which comes across in both their kaleidoscopic artwork and the hint of Turnstile-esque psychedelia on their guitars, and Lexi tops that off with a militant bark that ropes you in on first listen. Their new release Spaced Jams compiles their 2021 four-song demo and two-song Two New Joints promo, and also adds in three new songs. It’s the perfect introduction to a very promising band, and it makes me really excited to hear where Spaced go next.
Speed – Gang Called Speed EP
Just one look at a Speed music video, and you know this is a tough-as-fuck hardcore band whose bad side you never want to be on. The Australian band made their US debut at Sound & Fury, and video of the event looked instantly legendary. But even if you’ve never seen how intense this band, you can hear it in their music. Every song on their new Gang Called Speed EP goes just as hard as a band with their image needs to go, and vocalist Jem’s bark has the adrenaline rush of a guy who just got out of a boxing match. But going hard is only half the battle (or maybe for Speed it’s like 80% of the battle), these songs also have crisp production, powerful messages, and as far as beat-your-ass hardcore bands go, they’re kinda catchy. It’s no surprise that they were welcomed with open arms at their first US show — they are flat-out undeniable.
Strange Joy – “Black Hole Love”
Hardcore bands embracing shoegaze and college rock is nothing new, but Texas band Strange Joy’s new 5 Tracks EP asks: what if a hardcore band embraced those sounds without softening up? Throughout the EP, they channel the guitar work of bands like Hum and Dinosaur Jr without taming vocalist Jonah Castillo’s militant bark. On EP closer “Black Hole Love,” they expand their sound even further, incorporating Title Fight-esque melodic singing and a quiet clean-guitar bridge, before exploring into one last burst of aggression.