Turnstile – ‘Glow On’ review: hardcore visionaries return to raise the bar once again
When Turnstile released their boundary-pushing sophomore album Time & Space, the hardcore punk visionaries not only gained much-deserved crossover success for themselves, they also brought a lot of new attention to hardcore in general. In the time since that LP dropped, a lot of other great bands have put out their own genre-defying hardcore records, and hardcore's fanbase has kept expanding. Given all the momentum in the scene, a band who hasn't released music in three and a half years could get passed by, but Turnstile have done the opposite. They're back with their third album, Glow On, and they've raised the bar once again.
Glow On picks up right up where the experimentation of Time & Space left off, and it goes further in just about every direction. Time & Space had interludes that flirted with indie-friendly pop music, but Glow On has entire songs like that, and one of them features Blood Orange (who's on one of the heavier songs too). And the entirely-non-hardcore moments fit right in with the more aggressive stuff. Whether Turnstile are churning out a circle-pit-inducing ripper or flirting with electronic R&B, they always sound like Turnstile. That's no easy feat. Like Time & Space, Glow On's approach to hardcore is melodic, psychedelic, and full of percussive polyrhythms that sound like no other band on the planet. With Glow On, Turnstile have created an entire universe, one where classic punk, thrash solos, hip hop, and pop music all peacefully co-exist. If you want to pick apart the musical influences, you can hear bits and pieces pulled from all across the past half century of popular music, and it's all presented within the context of an entirely modern record. The perspective Turnstile bring to their music, the way they connect seemingly disparate dots -- it all feels of this very moment. It makes sense that Turnstile are often the only heavy band on a major music festival, or on a hip hop package tour. They're one of the only heavy bands whose music interacts with several different styles of non-heavy music this naturally.
Hardcore is a genre where even the best bands are often strictly rooted in tradition, but Turnstile seem concerned with anything but tradition. With Glow On, they made a hardcore record that pushes the definition of "hardcore" to its limits, but it's also not a record that ever fully pivots away from hardcore. For all its boundless experimentation, Glow On still gives you the thrill of hardcore. It's still a record that sends bodies flying when Turnstile play these songs live. It's still utterly aggressive music. You don't have to be a hardcore kid to like it, but it's so much more than "hardcore for people who don't like hardcore." That (usually cynical) description tends to imply some level of watering down the genre for commercial gain, but that's not Turnstile's M.O. at all. They've become one of modern hardcore's biggest bands not by making any sacrifices for mainstream appeal, but by being fearlessly innovative at every turn.
Glow On is out now on Roadrunner. Stream it below...