This is the second instalment in this series, aimed at highlighting some of the more enjoyable hardcore releases that have crossed my path over the years. The first article focused on what 2016 has offered us so far, and this second one looks back at 2015.
Once again, this is not the biggest or largest bands, or anything like that; rather, it’s just a list of some of my favourite hardcore releases from 2015. I’ve picked five of the best, so turn up the volume and check them out.
Attan – From Nothing
We start off with these Norwegian savages, who infuse their dark hardcore with sludge and all things nasty. ‘From Nothing’ is filled with a destructive energy and a pure, primal fury the likes of which most bands never attain. There’s more to Attan than just anger and speed though, as the sludge aspects of their sound sees them inject some Neurosis-styled elements here and there; some of the slower wall-of-guitars-style sections are quite apocalyptically sublime. Full of focus and intensity, this is a top-drawer début release for the band, and I can’t wait to see what they do next.
This is only 22 minutes long, but there’s so much on offer here that I wouldn’t be surprised to see them get snapped up by one of the larger extreme music labels in the near future.
Cowards – Rise to Infamy
Cowards play the kind of ugly, filthy, discordant and extreme hardcore that I can’t get enough of. Their particular brew of nastiness is shot through with streaks of both sludge and black metal, so that ‘Rise to Infamy’ sounds as abrasive as it is murky. Each of the tracks on this album brings something a little different to their melting pot of foulness, and the album has lots of good ideas buried underneath the streams of bile that the singer spews forth. Taking the angry, violent, dark hardcore template and stamping their sludgy, blackened personality all over it with the force of jackhammers, Cowards’ atypical and jagged riffs will stick in your brain like a rusty needle long after the distortion has faded.
France seems particularly adept at producing this kind of thing, with the mighty Throatruiner Records acting as the proverbial dealer for the band’s destructively addictive tunes.
Death Engine – Mud
Death Engine are another dark gem from the Throatruiner treasure trove. French hardcore seems to be a very vibrant and creative scene, and Death Engine are another great example of this. ‘Mud’ is angry, dissonant, atonal and quite varied in its murderous ways. Post-hardcore and complex noisecore combine to produce an album that’s quite a compelling listen. With a gritty, real production that’s nonetheless perfectly clear and precise, the band achieve heights of emotive frenzy and savage beauty. ‘Mud’ is a particular favourite of mine, and it seems that every time you listen to it there’s some new facet of it to explore. Death Engine should be proud of themselves.
Muck – Your Joyous Future
There’s not too many bands I can think of from Iceland, but pretty much all of them have quite an individual sound in one way or another, and Muck are no different in this regard. This is acerbic and violent, but with a ragged looseness that says “I just don’t give a damn”. Their personality comes through strongly in the music, and even more so in the singer’s spirited voice. Vital, pulsing hardcore is the order of the day that crosses an older punk feel with a more modern, aggressive brand of hardcore. ‘Your Joyous Future’ is a quality album, one that I keep returning to over and over.
Raised Fist – From the North
We started this article with Attan, who revel in the dark, negative energies that they create. We end with Raised Fist, who are quite the opposite in nature. ‘From the North’ is upbeat, positive and highly infectious. There’s a distinct high-energy 90s feel to this album, one that sees it sit nicely alongside classic releases by the likes of Sick of It All, Biohazard, Pro-Pain and the like. There’s anger and heaviness on this album, but those traits don’t define the band; Raised Fist have a definite uplifting quality to their music that makes them stick out from a lot of their contemporaries. They’ve also managed to snag a singer that has a very charismatic edge to his voice, so that when he’s in full flow and the music is dropping huge grooves and catchy hooks, the band sound unstoppable.
And that’s it for 2015. Stay tuned for the 2014 edition, coming soon to a pit near you…