With fall approaching, we’ve been looking back on some of the albums we love that came out during spring and summer of 2023. Yesterday we looked at 10 post-hardcore & emo albums that came out during the year’s warmer months, and today we’re looking at something a little more aggressive: 10 hardcore albums from that same time period. We don’t want to get into a subgenre debate, but if you’re looking for the new Scowl, Militarie Gun, Fiddlehead, and Angel Du$t, we included those in the post-hardcore list, and this list focuses a little more on bands who haven’t (yet?) crossed over (but we are not in any way saying that those other bands aren’t hardcore).
Now that that’s out of the way, read on for the list. What other new hardcore have you been digging lately?
Buggin – Concrete Cowboys
Over the course of a demo, an EP, a few other tracks/singles, and some rowdy live shows, Chicago’s Buggin (fka Buggin Out) have been leaving their mark on the current hardcore scene, and now they follow all of that up with their first full-length album, Concrete Cowboys. It’s a 12-song LP that makes good on the promise of the band’s early material and really lets you know what Buggin is all about. Vocalist Bryanna Bennett flips a middle finger to fakes, entitled assholes, people who live on the internet, and people who tokenize non-men in hardcore, and they also revel in the thrill of a hardcore show and dedicate an entire song to getting snacks and sodas at the bodega. The instrumentals follow suit, with a backdrop that’s as fun as it is aggressive. They swerve between fast-paced punk and groove-based hardcore, and they flirt with some catchier stuff too, like the clean backing vocals on “Youth” and the skate punk riffs on “Redacted.” But for the most part, the songs are impactful just because Buggin have a firm grasp on hardcore as an art form, not because they’re trying to please anyone other than themselves.
Drain – Living Proof
Living Proof isn’t just the name of Santa Cruz hardcore band Drain’s excellent sophomore album (and first for Epitaph); it’s a mantra. In the classic “anyone can do this” punk rock fashion, Drain are living proof that you can do this too if you believe in it, that haters can’t bring you down, that no one can stop you from being yourself. “These are the words I wish I had when I needed them the most,” vocalist (and former Gulch drummer) Sammy Ciaramitaro screams on the title track, which closes the album. Drain aren’t playing for the gatekeepers, the critics, or the cultural tourists; they’re playing for the kids who need a great hardcore band like Drain in their lives. With thrash and groove metal riffs from guitarist Cody Chavez, Drain are tough, but they aren’t unwelcoming. Anyone who cares about this shit is welcome at a Drain show, and Drain shows are getting pretty damn big lately. The vibe is both in-your-face and flat-out fun, just like Living Proof, which balances out its aggressive tone with colorful artwork, California warmth, and honesty and vulnerability in Sammy’s lyrics, whether he’s talking about kicking an alcohol-fueled lifestyle for a straightedge one on “FTS (KYS)” or celebrating being your true self on “Imposter.” As a way of keeping the album from ever getting stagnant, Drain break up their fury with a hip hop interlude (led by hardcore-adjacent rapper Shakewell) and faithful, clean-vocal cover of Descendents’ “Good Good Things,” both of which fit perfectly within the context of Drain’s music. They don’t abandon what people loved about their Revelation Records-released debut LP California Cursed, they just expand upon it, add in a few new things, and make it even better.
Listen to our new podcast episode with Sammy for more.
Incendiary – Change The Way You Think About Pain
Closed Casket Activities
A lot has changed in the six years since Long Island metallic hardcore heroes Incendiary last released an album–the state of the world, the state of hardcore, to name two things–but one thing hasn’t changed: Incendiary are a serious force. If you see them live, especially in New York, it’s obvious that they’re a well-oiled machine on stage and that they have a fanbase with undying love for them. Listening to their new album Change The Way You Think About Pain, you hear all the precision and force that Incendiary bring to their live shows. With perfectly-matched producer Will Putney, Incendiary churn out bone-crushing chugs and finger-pointing lyrics that take aim at a lot of the bullshit that’s been going on in America lately. The band’s goal was to refine their sound, rather than repeating the past or making a drastic departure, and that’s what they did. Change The Way You Think About Pain is the Incendiary you know and love, in a way that feels urgent and fresh in 2023.
Initiate – Cerebral Circus
Triple B Records
California hardcore band Initiate sounded like they were bursting at the seams with ideas on their 2020 EP Lavender, and it all explodes on their new full-length Cerebral Circus, one of the most uniquely appealing hardcore LPs I’ve heard all year–and it’s been a great year for hardcore. Cerebral Circus is full of genre-hopping ideas that Initiate pull off incredibly naturally. On “Waste Your Life,” punchy power pop guitars lead right into chuggy hardcore. “Amend” offers up a shoegazy twist on a metallic hardcore breakdown before pivoting to vocalist Crystal Pak screaming over delicate, ballad-driven guitars in a way that hearkens back to ’90s screamo. “The Surface” goes from floor-punching hardcore to a soaring, melodic alt-rock chorus without missing a step. Closing track “Transparency” is a post-rock-infused post-hardcore mini-epic that would fit on a Touché Amoré album. There’s so much range and depth and beautiful aggression in this album, and it all comes together in a way that’s grander than any one or two of these songs could’ve suggested on their own.
Jesus Piece – …So Unknown
Jesus Piece drummer Luis Aponte said a big goal on the Philly metalcore band’s sophomore album …So Unknown “was to capture the same energy on record that we have live – for people to get that sense of urgency and danger.” The last time I saw them, there was a rogue firebreather in the crowd, so that’s no easy feat, but …So Unknown pulls it off. With futuristic production from Randy Leboeuf (Every Time I Die, The Acacia Strain, etc), …So Unknown sounds even more towering than Jesus Piece’s great 2018 debut LP Only Self, and its machine-gun kick drums and gut-punching palm mutes take me right back to the band’s anarchic live show. On top of all the power and chaos, …So Unknown also pushes the limits of Jesus Piece’s songwriting, incorporating elements of industrial and noise into their bone-crushing metalcore, toeing the line between discordance and melody, and experimenting more with their dynamics. …So Unknown is more than just the second best way to experience Jesus Piece’s music; it’s a great record that stands on its own.
Magnitude – Of Days Renewed…
Triple B Records
From their artwork to the first time you click play, it’s not hard to tell that Magnitude possess a love for ’90s and very early 2000s metallic hardcore, and they do a fine job of paying homage to the greats of that era while making music that lands with an impact in the 2020s. The North Carolina straightedge band’s sophomore album Of Days Renewed… is full of familiar tricks that range from pit-opening chugs to slogans that beg to be yelled back in vocalist Russel Bussey’s face to a few comparatively pensive moments like the title track’s bridge, and it’s polished off with a production style that sounds fresh and modern. Lyrically, Russel looks both inwards and outwards, and–like many great straightedge bands before him–has his sights set on a better future.
Pick up our exclusive splatter vinyl variant.
Move – Black Radical Love
Triple B Records
“The songs are meant as a call to act,” says Corey Charpentier, vocalist of Boston hardcore band Move. “I want people to listen to these tracks and then move to better their conditions, I want people to move at our shows.” Even if he didn’t say it, that would come across loudly and clearly. From its spoken word samples to its shouted lyrics, Black Radical Love is an overt piece of protest art, and it’s also a fiery hardcore album that makes it impossible to stand still. Corey adds that the album “deals with our current position living underneath the US Imperialist state specifically a Black experience,” and that side A is fueled by anger and side B is fueled by the joy of a better tomorrow. Both messages are powerful on paper, and they hit even harder when you hear Corey shouting at the top of his lungs over a pit-opening backdrop.
Never Ending Game – Outcry
Triple B Records
Detroit heavy hardcore band Never Ending Game put out their debut LP Just Another Day in late 2019 and played just a few shows before Covid lockdown happened, but now they’re back and better than ever on their sophomore LP Outcry. It’s just as tough as the debut, but a lot catchier and more “song”-oriented, with gang-vocal singalongs, melodic metalcore riffs, a guest vocal appearance by Trapped Under Ice/Angel Du$t’s Justice Tripp, and more. We’ve got a lengthy feature on the album by Hugo Reyes–check that out for more.
We’ve also got an exclusive splatter vinyl variant of the N.E.G. album, limited to just 250 copies.
Pain of Truth – Not Through Blood
Pain of Truth’s debut album will take you right back to the tough-as-nails sound of early ’90s New York metallic hardcore, and the guest-filled LP features one of the OGs of that era (Freddy Madball), plus members of Terror, Trapped Under Ice, Incendiary, Mindforce, The Movielife, Vein.fm, 200 Stab Wounds, Buried Dreams, Bad Seed/Title Fight, Criminal Instinct, and Last Wishes. With a cast like that, there’s no doubting this record’s hardcore pedigree, but guests aside, none of this would work if POT themselves weren’t as powerful as they are. From the primal thud of the musicianship to vocalist Michael Smith’s antagonist bark, POT have clearly absorbed the influence of their forebears and the way they spit it back out is nothing short of menacing.
Pick up our exclusive blue/yellow vinyl variant.
Sunami – Sunami (L.P.)
Triple B Records
Sunami hail from the thriving Bay Area hardcore scene–with current and former members of Gulch, Drain, Spinebreaker, Hands of God, and more–and they’ve built up a reputation for putting on some of the wildest hardcore shows not just in the Bay but all around the world. They’ve put out a few brief releases (demo, promo, EP, split, etc) since 2019, and this week they released their debut full-length with no prior warning. Underground hardcore bands release LPs without warning all the time; when Sunami did it, it felt like an event. Even as a “full-length,” this is still just eight songs in 17 minutes and some of them had already surfaced on other releases, but it’s the most complete project we’ve gotten from Sunami yet and you can tell from these eight songs why this band has been causing such a ruckus. Vocalist Josef Alfonso sets his coarse bark against thick, metallic riffs and a volatile rhythm section, and the band keeps things too rough and punk to fully veer into “metalcore.” They aren’t breaking the mold, they’re just making fun, angry songs to lose your mind to and they’re pretty damn good at doing that.
Pick up our exclusive splatter vinyl variant.