NINE – THIEVES LP I
The boys in Thieves have truly outdone themselves for this release, as each song is infinitely more pissed than the last. This LP is sixteen songs of lament, pain, and tones so heavy you’ll get evicted for playing it past 10:00pm. Fuck your landlord, though, they still haven’t fixed your clogged drain. While every song on this release kills it, some of highlights are tracks like “Numbered,” “Smothered,” “Hindered,” “Severed,” “Ended,” “Immersed,” and “Claimed.” LP I is not just a good album, it’s a mature one. Hardcore is plagued with trendy bands copying even trendier ones. This record doesn’t play games, it doesn’t aim to please, and it doesn’t send you notifications all fucking day to follow them on Snapchat. Thieves don’t need your fucking approval, and they certainly don’t need mine, but fuck it, I’m giving it to them anyway: this band and everything they do rips and we don’t deserve them.
Read the full review here.
EIGHT – HELLKEEPER A World Within Flesh
The album begins with the band sticking tight to their hardcore and death metal roots, however each song adds a new layer of influence from the aggressive music cannon. Hellkeeper are no fucking joke, these dudes can fucking play and unapologetically blast out tracks that are reminiscent of everything from Rotten Sound to Cult Leader, all while making time to show their love for hardcore-influenced breakdowns and clean vocals. I have nothing clever to say or anything profound to add to this review. This release is a goddamn masterpiece that deserves to be heard by the punks, the metal heads, the hardcore kids, the grinders, the power violence purists, and of course your annoying friend that casually refers to all loud music as “screamo.” For starters, I strongly recommend listening to the album from start to finish. If you have the attention span of a small child on cocaine, then I recommend jamming out to tracks like “Quietus,” “Winter,” “Obscure,” and “Cycle.” Those were my personal favorites, but what the fuck do I know – turn up those speakers and let Hellkeeper drag you into the void.
Read the full review here.
SEVEN – CONVERGE The Dusk in Us
Now near the end of their third decade, Converge offers a modern elder’s model for upstart bands or, really, anyone at all. The Dusk in Us is Converge’s first record in five years, and every moment feels earned and alive, like the band hit “Record” only when it had something to say. Between records, they helm or contribute to half a dozen other bands; guitarist Kurt Ballou runs one of the most crucial rock studios around, while Bannon helms Deathwish, a label that’s been testing the borders of heaviness for years. At a time when the problems that give Bannon reason to scream seem only to be getting worse, such self-sufficiency represents an inspiring antidote to the imbalances at the core of The Dusk in Us. Bannon implores us to overcome; Converge, by its very existence, shows us how.
And if Bannon’s lyrics reflect a quest for personal growth and self-preservation in a world that feels ever more fractious, Converge has offered a musical roadmap for as much for decades. They’ve constantly refined their core—a jagged mix of hardcore power and death metal kinetics—while spreading and evolving their sound, too. They’ve added ghoulish dirges, scabrous noise-rock, and bona fide pop hooks. All of that is here on The Dusk in Us, from Ballou’s feedback squall throughout “Murk & Marrow” and Nate Newton’s blunderbuss bassline at the center of “Trigger” to Ben Koller’s start-stop-and-sprint drumming during “I Can Tell You About Pain.” As sharp, urgent, and exploratory as they’ve ever been, The Dusk in Us is quintessential Converge, given the grand new purpose of salvation.
SIX – CODE ORANGE Forever
Pittsburgh quartet Code Orange play juddering, malevolent hardcore, shot through with dissonant groove and macho swagger, but they arrive at a unique sound via unsettling ambient interludes and shrewd doses of melody. Or, as Code Orange drummer/vocalist Jami Morgan told Rolling Stone last year: “When you feel settled in, I want it to just fuck you again.” Latest single and album highlight “Bleeding in the Blur,” sung by guitarist Reba Meyers, finds the band veering convincingly into hook-forward alt-metal and proving in the process that its shock tactics are anything but typical.
Via Rolling Stone
FIVE – CULTURE SHOCK S/T
Urban life promises many rewards—lies that foster complacency and addiction. In the cities where these hotbeds fester, we observe in real time how societies fail. After a period of crisis, horrifying acts are normalized. Drugs become one’s identity, hype is power, ego is abuse.
For the lone wolves and free thinkers disgusted by the mainstream echo chamber, they scorn the idea of getting along with self-proclaimed role models and their bland, conventional “fun.” CULTURE SHOCK is a fist in the teeth of the Good Life, with an outrageous vendetta to take out the entitled parasites ruining the world.
CULTURE SHOCK’s debut is an unapologetic and relentless pummel of US hardcore. Each of these 10 anthems delivers a feral intensity that we’ve come to expect from the Denver scene. Recorded on analog tape in Denver, Colorado and mixed and mastered by Will Killingsworth at Dead Air Studios, maniacal vocalist Geoff D. sums it up it best when he proclaims “The Pack is small, but the bite is hard!”
Via Youth Attack
FOUR – CIVILIZED Chopping Block
Despite their geographic isolation, Denver’s CIVILIZED have emerged as elites in the hardcore underground. Building upon their stellar Dust and Blood EP, they unveil 13 new songs with a mastery that surpasses their influences. This is how eternal US Hardcore is made: raise the standard with scrutiny and persistence, smash all that is mediocre with brute force and aspire toward truth by eliminating all that is not real. Through these aims, CIVILIZED unveils a classic. Chopping Block is a tour de force of modern hardcore—a barrage of hooks and jaw-dropping shifts delivered in a burst of youthful fury. Zach Reini’s vocals astound as he leads the way in a sequence of perfectly executed compositions that balance time-honored motifs with dizzying variety. Engineered by Will Killingsworth at Dead Air Studios, with an unforgettable cover shot by acclaimed photographer Daniel Shea, CIVILIZED has laid your neck on the line.
Via Youth Attack
THREE – INTEGRITY Howling, For the Nightmare Shall Consume
Integrity is important, but that statement alone is negligible given the band’s near 30 years as both progenitors and continuous pioneers of metallic and Holy Terror-inspired hardcore. Dwid Hellion, the original line-up’s sole remaining member and eternal mouthpiece, has long turned Integrity into a vehicle for his apocalyptic visions and esoteric rituals. From the straightforward hardcore of their late 80’s through mid-90’s incarnation, to the divisive, unique Integrity 2000 and Rob Orr eras, Integrity has morphed from band to entity, an elemental force that is felt throughout hardcore and its splintering genres like veins to arteries. So yeah, Integrity is important.
Until now, Hellion and his rotating collaborators had yet to produce an album that equaled 2003’s To Die For; a slick, breathless and zero-fluff throwback to the name’s heyday. The Blackest Curse and Suicide Black Snake were bleak and mysterious, true-to-form material, though they lacked the visceral, scorching punch of Integrity’s earlier works. Now, in the darkest of modern times, we have what could be Integrity’s best work since To Die For, or perhaps even since the legendary Humanity is the Devil.
Read the full review here.
TWO – ALL PIGS MUST DIE Hostage Animal
Hostage Animal comes out swinging and takes you on a punishing journey to every end of the extreme music spectrum. APMD straight up force-feed their victims lethal doses of riffage, as the band has truly outdone themselves. Adam Wentworth and Brain Izzi are the undisputed HM2 gods of modern metal. Ben Koller beats his drums like he caught them breaking into is house, Matt Woods makes the fat strings ache and Kevin Baker tops it all off unrelenting and unforgiving vocals. What has always made APMD one of the heaviest bands is their ability to transition from various tempos with ease. Tracks like “Hostage Animal,” “Meditation of Violence,” and “Blood Wet Teeth” absolutely tear through various tempos and will make you feel like you just ran a circle pit marathon. Conversely, it’s tracks like “Slave Morality,” “End Without End,” and “Heathen Reign” that incorporate hardcore, death and doom-influenced breakdowns as well as melodic and atmospheric guitar parts to transport listeners to new dimensions of pain. Ultimately, this album is everything you want in a hardcore/metal/punk release. It is punishing and abrasive, yet soothing and melodic. Hostage Animal is an absolute ripper you’ll want to be buried with – best stop what your doing and go modify your will.
Read the full review here.
ONE – FRIENDSHIP Hatred
All in all the utter miracle that is this band is just its mindless and completely feral approach to the rudiments of hardcore punk and grindcore, as if these sociopaths have somehow managed to set the bar at an impossible new standard, redefined the very intrinsic essential elements of powerviolence/grind, and just pushed the whole genre beyond, into complete liminality, in a remote and inaccessible place where its load of violence and destruction are even hard to comprehend. All you have to do is sit for a minute and analyze their breakdowns, or their savage blast beats laid over a wall of feedback and of Godflesh-like mid tempo guitar crush-depth. It is a way of approaching the craft which is a no prisoners one. It is envisioned and executed to bend the spine and then break it with sheer force, with just blunt arrogance. Just look around the internet and watch everyone call this thing the greatest hardcore album of the year. There are no doubts in anyone’s minds that is exactly what this thing is. Get vinyl from Southern Lord, CDs from Daymare, and tapes from Sentient Ruin.