This is the first in a series of articles I want to write highlighting hardcore bands and their contribution to the rich tapestry of guitar-based music I’ll just generally refer to as Metal. The idea is not to provide any form of comprehensive be-all-end-all list of anything, nor is it to highlight the biggest and the best or anything like that. Quite simply, I want to mention a few releases in each article that I have enjoyed, and maybe you’ll find something new and great to listen to.
We’re going to start off in 2016 and work backwards, because why not? 2016 is still relatively young so far, so today I just want to turn the spotlight on some releases that I’ve particularly enjoyed so far, and we’ll take it from there. The next article will highlight 2015, so we’ll probably see a few more bands in that one, as there’s been more time for good releases to come out, and for me to listen and absorb them all.
Okay, with the stage set, let’s have at it.
Dark Circles – Split with Abstracter
Canadian band Dark Circles play dark hardcore, pitch-black and full of hatred and bile. Their violent music largely comes in two forms; short, aggressive bursts of nastiness or longer, more claustrophobic expressions of malice and contempt. On this release with the very worthy Abstracter, they get to ably demonstrate their proficiency in both areas. This might be short, but it has a lot to recommend itself, and if you like what you hear then it’s definitely worth checking out their other work too. You can almost feel the seething malevolence that they almost palpably exude. Dark Circles are not for the faint-hearted.
Grieved – Grieved
The début album from Sweden’s Grieved is another slab of dark hardcore, filled to the brim with venom and bile. I was impressed with this album in more ways than one. The songs pulse with a vibrant energy and you can feel the hidden heart of the band, hammering the rhythms home. Theirs is a dark heart, filled with emotions that threaten to tear them apart, only to be expressed outwardly through 29 minutes of cathartic apocalyptica. Eschewing the more obvious route of high-velocity tracks, this is mainly mid-to-slow paced, revelling in a thorough execution of their destructive manifesto. It’s well-written, well-delivered and overall a very satisfying listen. Who said hardcore had to be positive and life-affirming?
Polar – No Cure No Saviour
This is the second album from this UK group, which combines punk and post-hardcore into this 40 minutes of quality tunes. ‘No Cure No Saviour’ has a concept and theme based around homelessness and the damage and destruction that this can cause to people’s lives. Polar are intent on making a difference with their music, teaming up with well-established charity Crisis in order to try and do what they can for a very serious issue. This obvious passion and feeling is felt throughout the album, and it’s a powerhouse of emotion and feeling, all wrapped up in a lead weight that could easily smash skulls if wielded by a less-caring hand. ‘No Cure No Saviour’ is packed to the brim with hardcore anthems that will see you heading down to the nearest pit as quick as you can.
Victims – Sirens
Victims are a well-known name in the underground crust/hardcore scene and play blistering D-beat with thick guitars and constant aggression. Operating since 1997, this is their sixth album and the band tear through 29 minutes of gritty, rough music that sounds like it knows a thing or two about a thing or two. With some high-octane hardcore melodies to accompany the energetic riffs and relentless D-beats, the songs are an enjoyable romp in the gutter and are probably more catchy and memorable than they should be. The tracks are simple, straightforward and commendable in their adherence to form, all the while showing that if it’s not broke, don’t fix it. Victims know their chosen craft well and ‘Sirens’ is a great example of their work.
Walls of Jericho – No One Can Save You from Yourself
Walls of Jericho are one of the larger names in hardcore/metalcore. Veterans of the live scene, they’ve been carving up mosh pits and producing the kind of riotous, mosh-friendly anthems that we know and love since 1998. With snarling and aggressive vocals, their singer is in full control of the band’s brutal breakdowns and focuses the music with practised ease. On this latest album it’s largely business as usual for these US bruisers, which is no bad thing as they know their genre well and play it better than most. One interesting exception is the final song, Probably Will, where both the band and singer showcase their softer, more reflective sides; with the singer’s clean vocals shining in particular, revealing a side to her voice that is rarely seen. Overall, this is a crushing slab of metal-infused hardcore, and more than enough to get the mosh pits bouncing.
And thus ends our first foray into the violent waters of hardcore. Have a listen to each of them – which one gets you moving the most?