Best of 2021: Core Shaking Hardcore

“Hardcore and punk are dead” is a common phrase I’ve been reading around the web lately. Well, 2021 was a roundhouse kick to the face for hardcore nay-sayers. In a year golden year of hardcore, fans were blessed with heavy releases from newcomers and trailblazers alike.

Packed with a plethora of raw, unique, and untapped talent this list covers the ground-breakers to the heavy-hitters. The ten projects below—in no particular order—shook the cores of fans and reminded everyone that the genre is thriving now more than ever with no signs of slowing down.

How Flowers Grow
Flatspot Records

Emerging from the rugged coast of Santa Cruz, California the seeds of Scowl blossom into the flowers they’ve been working hard to be. The band offers a new perspective on the genre of hardcore. How Flowers Grow displays the progression the band has embraced since their self-titled demo release back in 2019.

Locked and loaded with aggression from Kat Moss’ vocal range and heavy riffs and breakdowns from her bandmates, Scowl displays the raw talent that is here to stay. They illustrate with this project how they have much more to contribute to the ever-growing genre and are ready to do whatever is necessary to get their message across.

Check out an interview I conducted with Moss for the magazine here. Also, be sure to check out their cunning performance via Scoped Exposure here.

Glow On
Road Runner Records

Coming at full force with a reckoning of a colossal giant, Turnstile brought it all with them on this record. Not hearing from the band since 2018, the growth and passion are still fresh and genre-breaking. The presence of the atmospheric synthesizers blending with melodically distorted guitars and wave-crashing drums takes listeners to a different dimension.

This piece stands as a tribute to those that feel lost in this world and that you’re not alone—keep glowing on. It also serves as a transcending piece for the Hardcore genre that won’t be forgotten anytime soon.

Be sure to read our interview with vocalist Brendan Yates here. Also, check the phenomenal live performance of the album caught by hate5six here.

Section H8
Welcome to the Nightmare
Flatspot Records

You won’t want to wake up from this nightmare—let alone escape from it. The latest release from Section H8 comes out guns blazing with Mexi’s sporadic vocals that shoot out like 9mm bullets. The immersive drum lines and smashing guitars complement the raw vocal range of Mexi that is pressed on throughout. With its demanding lyrics and grimy instrumentation, Welcome to the Nightmare belongs in any anarchist’s playlist.

Check out the interview we had with Mexi here. Also, check out their brutal performance captured by 197 Media here.

God’s Hate
God’s Hate
Closed Casket Activities

Coming straight out of Van Nuys, CA God’s Hate broke their silence of five years to continue their streak of making the hardest music possible. This album is made for anyone that enjoys a good moonsault off the ropes onto their foe.

With a various blend of aggression and melodic moments, snippets from movies, television shows, and video games, God’s Hate can be seen as an ode that character matters as an artist. The band’s presence moves their listeners by showing that they’re here to fill the gaps in the Hardcore niche.

Check out an exclusive interview with vocalist Brody King via No Echo here. Also, make sure you check out their God awakening performance via 197 Media here.

Against All Odds
Revelation Records

Orange Country straightedge hardcore band DARE came out like a raging bull with Against All Odds. The unscathed rawness of this band’s presence is unlike most acts with this recent effort. This is certainly a record that belongs in every hardcore fan’s rotation, whether you’re straightedge or not.

From the meaningful lyrics that Angel Garcia screams to the hard-hitting instrumentation, it’s safe to say that DARE is a staple to the genre that has much more to offer the community.

Read the interview we had with Garcia here. Also, check out their gritty performance via 197 Media here.

Show Me the Body
Survive EP
Loma Vista Recordings

Released during a moment in time where survival was the main theme, Show Me Body pushed that idea forward with this EP. The band stayed in uniform with their Post-Punk sound that captures living in this moment of history—distorted and beautifully scattered.

With only four minutes of music, Show Me the Body can get their message across without feeling rushed or phased by the limitations of an EP. There are themes that shed light on the plights that our country continues to fight every day revolving around racism and classism as well as death. Survive is a delicious bowl of nails dosed in milk as we await their next knuckle-cracking LP.

Check out the interview we conducted with the band here. Also, tune in for another chaotic live performance caught by hate5six here.

Knocked Loose
The Tear in the Fabric of Life EP
Pure Noise Records

After taking a couple of years to plan their next move, Knocked Loose completely surprised fans with this release. This project contains all the angst and energy of a brand-new band that has something to prove. Yet, Knocked Loose has proved their status in the genre showing that they’re still hungry and motivated to create unique content.

To make things even more interesting, the band released an animated short film designed by Magnus Jonsson that weaves the project’s themes and overall narrative together. It’s safe to say that Knocked Loose knocked it out of the park with this beautifully written conceptual piece that embodies the problems we all face and isn’t exclusive to one group of people. The band tackles topics of loss, grief, and desolation mirroring what the last couple of years have been like for everyone.

Check out a live performance of Knocked Loose back in September via hate5six here.

Fear Network II EP
Blackmage Records

Following up 2019’s Fear Network EP, this second installment provides an innovative twist on the hardcore genre. It’s always hard to place Ghostemane in a genre box because he is so fluid and hops across genre to genre effortlessly which is what separates him from a lot of other acts.

This EP serves as an experimental hardcore piece with the elements combusting out of the listener’s speakers: dynamic vocal range, chaos, aggression, crashing drums, and crunchy guitar riffs. Clocking in at only six and a half minutes, Ghostemane proves that he is still as versatile as ever making the musical challenges presented to him look like light work.

Sunami / Gulch
Split 7″
Triple-B Records

Both bands juxtapose one another through their vocal styles and crashing instrumentation on this split. The first half of the EP belonging to Sunami displays their signature sound of string-crunching riffs and heavy-hitting drum notes resembling rounds bursting from the barrel of an AK-47.

The second half obviously belonging to the infamous Gulch who unprecedently recently announced their split—no pun intended. Opening with the screams of banshee vocalist Elliot Morrow accompanied by a bone-twisting guitar, the lyrical imagery this band paints is unlike any other and is showcased expertly.

This EP represents what hardcore punk is and always will be, to push the boundary further within limited time.

Trapped in A World
Defiant Records

Though this isn’t necessarily a project of new songs, the revisioning of these classic tracks is a refreshing twist. The LP finds their form guitarist and ringleader, Todd Jones—who departed from Terror to work with his new band Nails—back on the boards.

This 12-track reimagining from the band’s first two studio releases Lowest of the Low (2003) and One with the Underdogs (2004) lets fans know that patience is a virtue, and more is on the horizon from these trailblazers. This LP breathes new life into these classic cuts by capturing the raw intensity of the band as if you’re at one of their shows in the comfort of wherever you’re listening. Let us call Trapped in A World a precursor of what’s to come from these hardcore heavyweights.

Check out a live performance back in September of Terror via 197 Media here.

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