December 20, 2023 5 min read

I turn 43 at the end of this month and am still waiting to get to a point where I stop caring about new hardcore and new records but another year has come and gone and that still hasn't happened. In fact, I couldn't even keep my top ten to just ten releases so there are some bonus records in here. While there are plenty of new bands I can't relate to and don't understand there are plenty that I do get into and not surprisingly a lot of what is on this list are bands made up of hardcore lifers in the 30+ club.

Big Laugh "Consume Me" LP (Revelation Records)
Sue me for being biased but this LP exceeded all of my expectations when I signed them to Revelation having only heard their Manic Revision 7". It's one of those rare hardcore records that is hard for me to find comparisons to and, after getting to know them, it's easy to understand why it's such a hard record to describe as the influences come from every corner of the punk universe. I have had conversations with mastermind and guitarist Zach about Burn, Autopsy, blazing Japanese hardcore, heavy 90's US meathead-core, black metal, and everything in between. All of the moments of melody, harsh noise, etc. just add to this amazingly eclectic atmosphere that is just such a hard thing to come by these days. Still some parts you can mosh to, too so don't worry.

Bloody Flag-s/t EP (Bunker Punks Discs & Tapes)
Chris Ulsh can do no wrong. The same punk genius behind Mammoth Grinder, Hatred Surge, Impalers, drums in Power Trip, and Devil Master does more raw noise-inspired hardcore with buzzsaw guitars kind of like Disclose and a little bit more of a blown out sound than his aforementioned Impalers but along similar lines.

Brain Tourniquet "...An Expression In Pain" LP (Iron Lung Records)
Powerviolence is such a weird term and it really does only apply to Infest, Crossed Out, No Comment, etc but when you say it you know what it means and Brain Tourniquet embody that term perfectly. Stops and starts, blast beats, negative mental attitude, it's all here.

Chain Whip "Call Of The Knife" LP (Neon Taste Records)
Early LA-inspired punk from Western Canada with a guitar and drum sound that reminds me of the bands from Sweden on Ny Vag of the early 2000s like Regulations and The Vicious but the dude's vocals are totally unhinged.

Crow "The Eye" 12" (Prank Records)
A long time ago I drove six hours to Gilman Street and back to see Crow and Talk Is Poison(see POAC entry below) so the fact that Crow put out a new LP was extremely exciting. They aren't quite as straightforward as other bands from Japan of that era and scene, but the melody, metallic-sounding guitars and just-raw-enough production make for a great release.

Destruct "Cries The Mocking Mother Nature" LP (Grave Mistake Records)
Grave Mistake Records is a permanent homie and one of the few labels whose records I check out no matter what thanks to his commitment to quality. destruct's second LP is more raw, D-Beating madness with heavy, HEAVY influence from the Bastard-Wind of Pain 12" and basically all Death Side. The most important element in hardcore like this is the drums and it delivers in a huge way. It's front and center in the recording the same way it is on Framtid and Bastard records.

Gel "Only Constant" LP (Convulse Records)
I'm sure this one is popping up on everyone's top ten lists but it's warranted. Gel is the standout band of the single-syllable mid tempo stomp HC genre that is also inhabited by bands like Spy, Gumm, Gag, Bib, etc. and from everything I have been told are pretty damn good people, too. I finally got to see them at Sound and Fury this year and it usually is hard to base a hardcore punk band's live show off of playing outside in front of a few thousand people but they didn't disappoint.

Golpe "Assuefazione Quotidiana" 7" (Beach Impediment Records)
Golpe is a one-man project from Milan and are a part of a new wave of hardcore coming from Italy. Sonically it's very similar to Torso but with a total ogre singing in Italian on vocals. I love the band's imagery on the cover of each record, with planet earth going through some kind of cartoonish stress.

Hotline TNT "Cartwheel" LP (Third Man Records)
OK so they aren't a "hardcore" band but the people in Hotline TNT come from our world and put out one hell of a record. The term "shoegaze" gets thrown around so much and it may be one of the more appropriate ways to describe Hotline but they are so much more than that. Lots of fuzz, lots of melody, I think I can hear some Swervedriver in there but the songwriting is undeniable.

Mil-Spec "Marathon" LP (Lockin' Out Records)
This is the record I was waiting for Mil-Spec to make. The melodic guitar leads are more juicy and the vocals, which I never thought fit the music that well, are now in sync with everything else, making the record fit perfectly on my shelf next to Praise and One Step Closer. Standout track is Belle Epoque, a spoken word monologue delivered by Sophie Vallee, wife of vocalist Andrew Peden, about their last time seeing the late great Riley Gale. This record was almost on Rev but since it came out on the illustrious Lockin' Out I can't be upset about it.

Mutant Strain-Murder of Crows LP (Sorry State)
A VERY late addition to the list (that makes it top 13, not ten, sorry!). Mutant Strain's music reminds me a lot of Savageheads in the guitar sound and production but deliver more speed, like recent Scandiavian standouts Exil. Standout track Tethered reminds me of a more manic version of the song Brotherhood by DYS and Melyssa's vocals fit the music perfectly sounding like she's been listening to lots of Gauze and Wrecking Crew.

Planet On A Chain "Boxed In" LP (Revelation Records)
File Brian Stern under riffmasters who have the golden touch, and since POAC is 3/5 of Look Back and Laugh(the best live band of my generation, prove me wrong) with absolute maniac Dave Ackerman of Tear It Up on vocals there is only one possible outcome and that is fast, burly hardcore punk played the way the good lord intended.

Scarab "Demo" 7" (Rebirth Records)
I'm not really a fan of hardcore with a lot of big heavy mosh but the way Scarab works them in with frantic speed and deranged-sounding vocals makes me think of Left For Dead in a very good way.

Stigmatism "Ignorance in Power" LP (Toxic State Records)
It can be so corny when a new band sounds exactly like some old band but in the case of Stigmatism they do the hardcore of Agnostic Front-Victim In Pain and The Abused-Loud and Clear so well I have to respect it. Everything down to the artwork has a New York 1983 vibe.