Label: Nova Recordings / Alone Records
As time fades, labels close, and technology moves on, it’s inevitable that some records will be lost to the sands of time. Such a fate seems to have been suffered by We’ll Make The Roads by Walking, and indeed by The Assistant, whose noisy, emotional hardcore would probably find a bigger audience today than it did upon release. Were it released today, a PR campaign might describe it as combining The Dillinger Escape Plan style technicality with an emotional, cathartic edge that can be found in Holy Roar Records’ recent outcome from Rolo Tomassi and Employed To Serve, all wrapped up in long, progressive song-writing. But alas, The Assistant are no more, but they did leave behind some killer songs.
Label: BDHW Records
Thronetorcher do not fuck around. The five-piece unleash utter devastation with their beatdown hardcore on debut EP Eden’s Poison, that’s made even more vicious than the norm through the addition of more metallic elements than is the norm, giving the EP a sound that doesn’t stray too far from the beatdown template, but still manages to do enough to distinguish itself. If you’re looking for something angry and heavy, then this has got you covered.
Label: Demons Run Amok Entertainment
Beat-down hardcore often incorporates the worst sides of hardcore; derivative riffs, empty lyrics, and alpha-male posturing. So it’s genuinely great to come across a band who buck the trend, writing beat-down hardcore that gets pretty much everything right. Rather than sounding like the soundtrack for gym-bros to pound on each other, SOS by Backswing instead comes across as a real burst of energy and righteous rage, muscular without being bone-headed, and with heart-felt lyrics that actually have something to say. All of which makes it such a shame that the band have recently split, as this group held real promise.
Label: Get Better Records
Over the course of just under six minutes, HIRS unleash one of the most vital, urgent grind records of recent years in YØU CAN’T KILL US. The abrasive nature of punk-infused grind is clear right from the start, with opener ‘NØT FØR YØU’ launching right into a full-blooded, groove-laden grinding rage, and the EP doesn’t let up from there. “We’re not for you!” goes the repeated refrain, and it’s utterly true – this is the sound of a space being carved out for those who do not feel they fit in with the sexist, transphobic, and otherwise discriminatory nature of modern Western society, where existence is an inherently defiant act.
Label: Endless/Nameless Records (CD) / I’ve Come For Your Children (vinyl)
The Absent Trail of an Echo and my Future Plagued by Surrender is a title almost as long as the EP by Gauge Means Nothing. The Japanese screamo band only released two records – this EP, and a split with Singapore band My Previous – but despite their short life as a band, they demonstrated a whole world of opportunities within their sound, with this EP including extended keyboard sections; black-metal riffing; and charmingly off-key dual male and female vocals. It’s a unique sound, and one that could only ever have been an niche concern, even within the hardcore underground.
Label: Initial Records
Tribute records are often unnecessary at best, and utterly demoralizing at worst. Sure, it can be great to hear bands you love covering a pivotal band; but it can also do little other than act as a reminder of how great the originals were. And whilst Black on Black certainly did that for Black Flag, it’s that rare thing: a tribute album that actually feels vital and relevant, with all the bands involved putting across their personality whilst paying respect to one of the most important punk bands ever. Some of the versions might even – whisper it! – be better than the originals.
Label: The Fear and The Void Recordings
Released last week, Lo, and I Am Burning by Slaves BC sounds just as impressive now as when I first reviewed it in January. Full of disconcerting, unstable black metal, it possesses a raw emotional catharsis that is usually absent with such music, giving it a personal feel that helps it to stand out. Situated somewhere between the heaviest, most punishing strands of hardcore and genre-defying black metal band Plebian Grandstand, Lo, and I Am Burning is the sound of a band not so much coming in to their own, but demonstrating why anyone who hadn’t previously been paying attention to them had been missing out.