13 hardcore releases not to miss from 2022 so far
It's Memorial Day, maybe you've got the day off, and maybe that means you've got some extra time to check out some new music. If so, we've got 13 hardcore releases from this year that we recommend. The list goes from melodic hardcore to metalcore, from tradition-honoring straightedge to genre-defying innovation. Your definition of hardcore may vary, but if it's on this list, we think it's hardcore. Check out our picks in no particular order below and tell us what new hardcore you've been listening to in the comments.
Soul Glo - Diaspora Problems
Soul Glo's first full-length for Epitaph is a boundary-pushing punk album that bridges the gap between hardcore and hip hop, emotions and politics, and more. It's full of cool guests from various musical backgrounds (including rappers Mother Maryrose, McKinley Dixon, lojii, and Zula Wildheart, vocalist Kathryn Edwards of Nashville hardcore band Thirdface, and Philly-via-London producer/DJ BEARCAT), and they all fit right in because Soul Glo are about finding the shared roots of various musical traditions, not drawing lines between them. It's both a big step up for the already-great Soul Glo and one of the most impactful punk albums released this year. Read much more about it in our new feature/interview about the album.
Drug Church - Hygiene
To quote the makers of last year's best hardcore album, you really gotta see it live to get it, and ever since I saw the insanely good Drug Church show at Market Hotel earlier this year, I have not been able to stop listening to their new album Hygiene. Patrick Kindlon and the rest of the Drug Church crew just brought so much energy to that show, and they did the same when they recorded Hygiene. These are big, loud rock songs with stacks of power chords ("Million Miles of Fun"), dance-off rhythms ("World Impact"), and too many great one-liners to count. This album just hits on every level; it makes you think, it makes you move, it's misanthropic and euphoric all at once.
Vein.fm - This World Is Going to Ruin You
Closed Casket Activities
Vein.fm's (fka Vein) 2018 debut album Errorzone was an instant-classic of the then-burgeoning metalcore revival, and now, four years, a name change, a remix album and two side projects later, they've finally released their much-anticipated sophomore album. This World Is Going to Ruin You was worth the wait; it does everything that you've come to expect from Vein.fm and more, and it proves that Vein.fm have not fallen behind the times one bit. In the four years since Errorzone, the current hardcore and metalcore scenes have produced a handful of modern classics and achieved a lot of crossover success, and with This World Is Going to Ruin You, Vein.fm are once again on the cutting edge of their genre(s). As on their debut, this record sounds like all the best parts of late '90s / early 2000s metalcore but in an entirely futuristic way. It's in touch with metalcore's hardcore punk roots, and it's also unafraid to flirt with nu metal (among other things, Vein.fm have a member whose role in the band is providing samples). It's chaotic, intense, and bone-crushingly heavy, but Vein.fm also continue to work in the more atmospheric, melodic side that they showed off with "20 seconds : 20 hours" from their remix album, and their Fleshwater side project. "Wherever You Are" is fueled by melancholic piano and airy, hummed clean singing, "Magazine Beach" puts a metallic hardcore twist on melodic alt-rock, and the album's towering final tracks, "Wavery" and "Funeral Sound," make good on the promise of "20 seconds : 20 hours" with some of the best Deftones-y rock in recent memory. They also embrace their accessible side by bringing in Thursday's Geoff Rickly to sing the hook on "Fear In Non Fiction," and Vein.fm's ability to fuse the accessible and the antagonizing is a big part of this album's appeal. It's an album that breaks down barriers between different genres, moods, and eras in consistently exciting ways, and it raises the bar for an already-great band.
Squint - Feel It
Sunday Drive Records
Squint is a new St. Louis band fronted by Soul Craft's Brennen Wilkinson that also features current and former members of Time and Pressure, New Lives, and Choir Vandals, and they cite pioneering melodic hardcore bands like Turning Point and Rites of Spring as influences, alongside classic '90s indie rock bands like Sugar and Seaweed. It results in a kind of indie-friendly post-hardcore that sits nicely next to bands like Drug Church, Fiddlehead, One Step Closer, and Title Fight, and if you've been enjoying the moment that that sound has been having lately, you need Squint in your life. Read more about the EP here.
Praise - All In A Dream
The last time DC/Baltimore-area melodic hardcore band Praise released music was 2016's Leave It All Behind (React! Records), and in that time, drummer Daniel Fang helped bring a lot more attention to hardcore with his other band Turnstile and Praise linked up with the legendary hardcore label Revelation Records. Now they've just put out their first album for Rev, All In A Dream. They made the album with production help from Brian McTernan (Turnstile, Thrice, Hot Water Music, etc), and you can hear his influence on these songs, which are cleaner and catchier than anything Praise had written previously. The album's not a drastic departure though; Praise's music still pays homage to influences like Dag Nasty, Rites of Spring, Embrace, 7Seconds, and Husker Du (whose "Keep Hanging On" they cover on this album), and vocalist Andy Norton says that's part of the point. He says part of the goal with Praise is to say, "These are all the bands that we love; we want you to love them too and check them out," but also to take those things and create something they can call their own. With All In A Dream, they've absolutely done that. Read our interview with Andy and co-producer Brian McTernan for more.
Foreign Hands - Bleed The Dream EP
In the January roundup of my column 'In Defense of the Genre,' I said if you took one look at that Foreign Hands artwork and thought "that looks like the best early 2000s metalcore CD I never bought," you are going to want to hear their new song "Separation Souvenir," and that's true of the entire Bleed The Dream EP. Foreign Hands, whose vocalist Tyler Norris also plays guitar in Wristmeetrazor, tap into the sound and look and feel of that era with so much authenticity, and they rival a lot of the best bands from back then too. And there's more to them than nostalgia. Even if you didn't buy CDs that look like that 20 years ago, Foreign Hands could be your new favorite band. Like the aforementioned Wristmeetrazor and other peers like Knocked Loose (whose Isaac Hale contributed some co-writing to this EP), Foreign Hands pull influence from the late '90s and early 2000s but they aren't stuck in the past. They embrace modern production, making Bleed The Dream sound like the best parts of turn-of-the-millennium metalcore without any of the outdated aspects, but not so modern that they lose the raw charm of this genre's early days. And across these five songs, they touch upon metalcore's crushingly heavy side, its clean-sung accessible side, and its more experimental side too. Bleed The Dream covers a lot of ground in a short running time, and it's got me very excited to hear what they do on their next full-length.
Combust - Another Life
NYC's Combust have been keeping the late '80s / early '90s NYHC fire alive since forming back in 2017, and this year we got their first full-length, Another Life. It was produced by Connor Jones of New York crossover thrashers Ekulu, and released on Ekulu's label Cash Only Records, and like that band, Combust aren't exactly trying to invent something new; they're just playing the music they love, and doing a damn good job of it. Vocalist Andrew Vacante has exactly the kind of pissed-off shout you need for this kinda stuff (especially on the middle-fingers-up single "Why I Hate"), and Combust have clearly absorbed the chunky riffs and ass-beating rhythms of their home city's hardcore history, and they know just how to spit them back out.
Terror - Pain Into Power
Sometimes you gotta go back to your roots in order to reinvent yourself, and that's exactly what hardcore veterans Terror have done on their eighth album Pain Into Power. They reunited with original guitarist (and Nails frontman) Todd Jones, who produced this album, sang on a track, and just in general played a big role in its creation. "Every aspect of this record he had a hand in," vocalist Scott Vogel told Eli Enis in an interview for Revolver. "He definitely created this band and this sound and everything, and then he stepped away from it but he's always been a friend to us and ally. Me and him over the years always talk about Terror and he's always kept his eye on us, so this was his chance to like get his hands around his creation and give his input to it again."
In that same interview, Scott said that Todd's vision for the album was for it to be just ten short songs, and to tone down their groove side. "Zero groove, just all brutal, aggressive, go for the throat from the minute the record starts until the end." That's exactly what they did, and these lifers still play with the venom of a young, hungry hardcore band. They also roped in guest vocalists from two actual young hardcore bands on "Unashamed" (Initiate's Crystal Pak and Year of the Knife's Madison Watkins), and they tipped their hats to their own forebears by bringing in Corpsegrinder of death metal legends Cannibal Corpse on "Can't Help but Hate." Even on a generational level, hardcore can be very tribal, with kids who only care about new bands and lifers who only care about the OGs, but Terror's new album brings everyone together for 18 minutes and 15 seconds of fury.
XweaponX - Weapon X Demo
XweaponX is a straightedge side project with two core members of Knocked Loose (Isaac Hale and Bryan Garris) and DARE drummer Trey Garris. They debuted this year with a five-song demo recorded by Isaac (whose production career has been taking off) and mixed by Andy Nelson, and as far as "demos" and "side projects" go, this one (not surprisingly) already sounds like a finished product. It's no-frills straightedge hardcore with very short, very angry songs, and it's fun to hear the Knocked Loose guys paying tribute to a sound that wouldn't really work in their main band. Not as revelatory as that last Knocked Loose EP, but goes extremely hard nonetheless.
Ghost Fame - Nobody Wants To Be Here, Nobody Wants To Leave EP
We recently posted a list of 20 essential melodic hardcore albums from the 2000s with bands like Defeater, Have Heart, Verse, The Carrier, Ruiner, etc, and at the end of the list, we mentioned five newer bands who are bringing that sound back today. One of them was Lowell, Massachusetts' Ghost Fame, who are definitely influenced by all of those bands, and who made their new EP with former Defeater member and Verse/The Carrier producer Jay Maas. Nobody Wants To Be Here, Nobody Wants To Leave is the band's second EP, following 2019's To All My Past Friends, and it's a big step up from their debut. It's been a while since I've heard a new band tap into that late 2000s melodic hardcore sound as directly and as expertly as Ghost Fame do, and since so many of those bands are broken up, there really is a void to be filled and Ghost Fame are filling it. They've got some cool contemporary guests on this EP too -- members of Boston chaotic hardcore band MouthBreather are on "False Chevalier" (and MouthBreather's Nick Cates co-recorded the EP with Jay Maas) and Great American Ghost's Ethan Harrison sings on "Scenes From A Marriage" -- and with bands like One Step Closer and Have Heart offshoot Fiddlehead bringing widespread attention to melodic hardcore again, Ghost Fame have arrived at the perfect time. Right now, they're inducing nostalgia for a beloved period of hardcore, but at the rate they're progressing, they could be on their way to defining a new moment for the genre too.
Memento - A Chorus of Distress
The Coming Strife
There have been so many great new takes on '90s/2000s metalcore lately, and one that's not to miss is A Chorus of Distress, the new EP from Orlando's Memento that's out now via The Coming Strife/Salsa Verde. It combines Y2K-era metalcore with melodic emo, coming out with something that scratches the same itch as bands like Poison the Well and From Autumn To Ashes, and it totally avoids the the overly polished production and clean-sung hooks that watered down the genre in the mid 2000s. Sometimes the best path to a bright future is taking things all the way back to the source.
A Mourning Star - To See Your Beauty Fade
A Mourning Star are a Vancouver metalcore band on the rise, and from their primitive artwork to their raw production to the songs themselves, their debut EP To See Your Beauty Fade feels like a trip back to the late '90s/early 2000s. "I think that late '90s/early '00s metalcore interests me in particular because it's the most authentic presentation of the genre before it was fully commercialized," bassist Tyler Pearson told No Echo. "My big influences, musically speaking also originate in metal and late '90s hardcore. With that style of metalcore the 'metal' influence is distinct, and the 'hardcore' ethos are present. With modern metalcore those elements seem to be less important."
End On End - People Like You
New Morality Zine
At this point, Sam Allen is probably best known for playing bass in Anxious, who come from (and are still loyal to) hardcore, but whose music is more in emo/power pop territory now, but Sam also has the post-hardcore solo project G.I. Bill and fronts the straightedge hardcore band End On End. They describe themselves as "true-blue-hardcore-punk-rock music for both the curious-minded and the knuckle-headed," and that's a great way to describe the six songs on this new EP. They're short, fast, loud, and clearly indebted to '80s hardcore, but it's too impassioned to come off as idol worship. You don't need to know the bands End On End are referencing to get into this EP; for the kids out there who need an exciting new straightedge band to call their own, this could be it.
See also: 10 emo, screamo, and post-hardcore albums not to miss from 2022 so far. Browse the 'In Defense of the Genre' archives for more punk coverage.