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What Assails You: American Hardcore

Image by Emily McCafferty
Image by Emily McCafferty

Last time we got around to naming some of last year’s best hardcore releases, and including artists that straddled those blurry genre lines. Here we are again, a couple of months later, still under the childish reign of the Tangerine Nightmare, the Twitter edgelord Moldy Fart Pumpkin. Rightfully, Americans are still pissed off, naturally leading to us having the nastiest, most vitriolic hardcore punk around. We’re a bunch with much to say and we voice it with unapologetic venom and unyielding unity.

On that note, as is the intent of this column, there are many American hardcore bands that deserve the spotlight. Below are just 20 of those bands, each well worth your time to catch at a show, check out their Bandcamp and/or snag a record or some merch. Keep the blood flowing.

Long Island’s Jukai channel their savage 90s metalcore darkness through releases like last year’s exceptional Devoid of Hope and split with Recycled Earth. Churning together Disembodied’s bleak undertow with Ringworm’s virulent blitzing, Jukai, an alternate name for Japan’s “suicide forest” Aokigahara, are perfect life-destroying music.

Recycled Earth
Tortuous, snarling choice cut metallic hardcore from Nyack, NY, Recycled Earth’s Act of Devotion EP is a beast. While Act of Devotion is a standout fury, Recycled Earth’s entire discography is a vicious assault well worth your time and the swollen knuckles that will follow.

Cell Rot
Raw and guttural, Oakland, CA’s Cell Rot released their debut demo last fall and it’s a serrated three song doozy. Keep your ears on this one.

Minor Morals
Tucson, AZ’s Minor Morals released Enforced to Exist earlier this year, unleashing their brand of volcanic political rage in the process. Very few debuts could boast of such heaviness, and this six-song beatdown will leave your face bruised and your ears peeled for more.

Lo-fi grindcore at its finest, Los Angeles’s Maladjusted pull from their queer, intersectional backgrounds to give us their unyielding, and most of all socially potent Not Taking Our Minds EP. The aptly titled Death is the Only Relief, while not as bludgeoning as the former, is a pure thrashing of a debut made for breaking furniture / everything.

Lowest Priority
Seattle, WA vegan edge powerhouse Lowest Priority will kick your balls in and leave you awaiting their next move with their rugged 2016 and Golden and Violet demos, each a blistering sweep of fine-tuned hardcore.

Arm’s Reach
Brutal and existential, Phoenix, AZ’s Arm’s Reach comes down like a hammerfall on the head of society with their Triggered EP. The fragile and tender better guard their grills, as a second helping of Arm’s Reach is on the way.

Forced Out
Also from Long Island comes the megaton beatdown that is Forced Out and their End of Suffering EP, which is a flat-out bone rattler. For further lessons in the art of bone-breaking, their previous three releases are splendid examples.

Born Guilty
Nothing but straight mosh, California’s Born Guilty surges with their classically versed and constructed A Different Type of Breed EP, which, along with their preceding demo and EP, is certain to fracture a skull of two.

Kernersville, North Carolina’s Dwell play a pummelling, schizophrenic take on metalcore, best exemplified on their joyously cacophonous album Innate. Exuding the tectonic seizuring of Botch and refined chaos of early Between the Buried and Me, Innate is anything but as it quakes with anxious rage and schizoid glee.

Chaotic and calculated in equal measure, Boston’s Vein are the unrivaled heirs to 90s-era Converge’s spastic hardcore and Orchid’s emoviolence outpourings. With their moving and hellacious discography, Vein are the pulse-quickening injection of metalcore originality everyone needs right now.

Soul Power
California straight edge pride played with youthful vigor that calls affectionately upon the greats of the late 80s, namely Youth of Today and Project X, Soul Power’s dual releases are a swarm on the senses, for the senses.

Brooding, hopeful, melodic and raw, California’s Initiate reforge hardcore’s formula into a vibrant new steel made for cutting down all your woes with surgical skill and mending them anew.

Blessed with a towering sound, Savannah, GA’s Vatican fire off their seething, technical metalcore with more aplomb than many of their peers. Not dissimilar to accessible mid-00s metalcore, Vatican flavor that sound with their own animalistic fervor, creating one uniquely their own that qualifies as a killer of a throwback.

Boston’s Firewalker will make your skin crawl and mind melt with their feral, crude punk. Played with that signature Boston pride that had permeated hardcore for three decades, Firewalker are simultaneously classic MA hardcore made fresh with modern aesthetics.

Easy Money
Relentless and refined hardcore from Mesa, AZ, Easy Money’s showmanship is demonstrated in true style on Rules of the Game, released last month.

Dead Heat
Oxnard, CA’s Dead Heat’s perilous crossover is a skilled balance of idealistic punk tempered with sweeping riffs made to churn only the most perfect of circle pits and neck-snapping of head bangs. Bringing together qualities of contemporaries like the guiltless fun of Power Trip with the assured steeliness of Iron Age, Dead Heat are a wonder that strike dead center with unparalleled results.

Vegan edge hardcore at its finest, Pembroke Pines, FL’s Ecostrike leave a crater of scorched earth in their wake with the five-song fiery protest that is Time Is Now, which logically brings to mind the mythical heaviness and scene-defining aesthetics of Earth Crisis, from whom Ecostrike sure-handedly carry the torch into bright new territories.

Palatka, FL’s Bind sounds like a mob all their own, with their True Colors being a veritable siege of gut-wrenching melodicism and bone-snapping breakdowns. Handily one of the best releases on this list, True Colors is Bind’s best to date, equipped with a unique tone will hopefully be expanded upon in the future.

Throw the murderous rage that the HM-2 sound induces in with hardcore’s infectious energy and you have San Jose, CA’s Spinebreaker, who more than represent their namesake with their monstrous, deathly Ice Grave LP.

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