CVLT Nation’s Top Ten HARDCORE Releases of 2016

TEN – ANXIETY s/t

I don’t even know where the fuck to start with this LP. It is, without a doubt, one of the coolest things to come out this year. Or really in recent memory, honestly. When I clicked play on LVEUM’s bandcamp, I was not prepared at all, and I don’t think anything I say in this review can fully prepare any of you. It’s not only that it’s really that out there, but it’s also that fucking good.

Anxiety is a new band out of the UK – no surprise based on how much truly interesting shit (No Form, Perspex Flesh, Frau, etc) has been coming out of there in recent years – who features members of The Lowest Form (another favorite) and others. But I’m not sure that really has any significance in terms of how this sounds. Anxiety sounds like…well…anxiety – yea yea, I know it’s corny. Their unique blend of all those various genres I listed above is an unstoppable force of nervous energy; like a sonic panic attack. Everything about what Anxiety does has a touch of madness; even the more straightforward (relatively speaking) hardcore punk-leaning tracks reek of influence from oddball bands like Feederz and Saccharine Trust. Add in the early SPK and Monte Cazazza-style electronics, The Ex and GRRR-style art punk, dark and ominous textures, and confusing progressions…and you still probably can’t imagine what this sounds like. The best way I can even semi-accurately describe Anxiety is that they sound like a hardcore punk Minimal Man. And how fucking sick is that?

Read the full review on FuckedbyNoise

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NINE – HIEROPHANT Mass Grave

I’ve always thought of Hierophant as a mutant offspring of noisy, feedback-driven, His Hero Is Gone styled Crusty-Hardcore, tinged with nods to Grind and Death Metal injected throughout every release.  And up until this point, they’ve pulled it off pretty damn flawlessly – but Mass Grave is a wholly different beast. Perhaps it’s the line up changes that have occurred over the course of their existence. Perhaps it’s them maturing as a band. Or even a deadly mixture of both these factors. Mass Grave should be considered a turning point for this them. A strong, almost behemoth-like showing of strength and aggressiveness, one that firmly puts its boot down on the throat of the underground scene.

Read the full review here

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EIGHT – LIKE RATS II

For those that don’t know, members of Like Rats also play in the hardcore/power violence monstrosity that is Weekend Nachos. However, I feel that it’s wrong to make that the selling point for this band. While Like Rats and Weekend Nachos are both heavier than the bag of hammers you used to beat up your hippie neighbor who wouldn’t stop talking about ‘shrooms, Like Rats are their own unique beast. Their newest offering to the world of heavy music is set to release on March 25th via Southern Lord, and it is eight tracks that will make you want to be baptized in blood. At this point, if you haven’t figured out that Like Rats have their sound rooted in old school death metal, then you’re probably a cop, in which case these unholy tunes cannot be spared for your piggy ears. In all seriousness, this album absolutely rips and once it hits the ears of non-oppressors everywhere, Like Rats will be bowed down to the same way modern worship bands like Black Breath and Nails receive their praise. There’s just no fucking question about it, this record is your new God, and church is in session.

Read the full review here

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SEVEN – HALSHUG Sort Sind

Tune in all raging lunatics – HALSHUG 2016 LP entitled Sort Sind bangs just as hard as Blodets Bånd. With this record, they wanted to create an all out Hardcore Punk onslaught, and I think they have hit the mark. HALSHUG is the kind of band that plugs everything they do into a HUGE electric outlet of urgency so that they can shock the listener with each listen.

 

 

SIX – ABSOLUTE POWER s/t

Text via Youth Attack

On their highly-anticipated debut ABSOLUTE POWER drops the hammer with 16 songs of unbridled East Coast U.S. Hardcore. In a tornado of anthemic riffs and tempo changes they set the stage for an all-out tear down of authority led by vocalist Chris O’Coin’s insane performance. Through themes of security, violence, and voyeurism the band strips away the bullshit to reveal a hideous raw sound that burns with aggression. Recorded by Ian Jacyszyn in NYC and mixed and mastered by Will Killingsworth at Dead Air with artwork by renown illustrator and ex-CHARLES BRONSON guitarist, Mike Sutfin. This is music from time-tested YA alumni (featuring members from FAILURES, SUBURBANITE & AEROSOLS) that delivers beyond all conceivable standards. ABSOLUTE POWER stands ready to rule.

 

FIVE – PURE DISGUST s/t

It’s a sad reality; I wish bands didn’t have to write politically-charged lyrics and I wish we lived in a world where punk didn’t have to exist, but we do. The decision to be involved with punk is inherently political –it’s music for people who have no other outlet to express their discontent with the system, and Pure Disgust may be one of the most important bands in the genre right now. Their music does not give the listener the option to look away; from start to finish you are confronted with the reality that the state is violent, coercive, and ready to attach a stigma of deviancy to anyone who does not look a certain way. You wanted details about the band’s tour schedule, releases, and merch? I refuse. Superficial components can wait, because these songs and these lyrics fucking matter. As far as I’m concerned, my input is meaningless – these songs speak for themselves and to the sickening conditions in which many are born in to. Simply put, records like this keep punk alive.

Read the full review here

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FOUR – HARLEY FLANAGAN Cro-Mags

Cro-Mags, the most recent solo offering from Flanagan, channels quite a bit of rage at the personality conflict behind the collapse of this once-great band, but also at the collapse of hardcore itself. Interestingly, it merges the speed metal era Cro-Mags with their earlier intensity to come up with a metal-influenced (but not metal-flavored) blast of rage and melancholic isolation.

The question before the reviewer is not whether Cro-Mags is a decent comeback album or an acceptable substitute for the Cro-Mags, but whether the music stands on its own. Over the course of several listens, I have concluded that it deserves listening on its own merit. These are aggressive but thoughtful songs with a core of dissident outlook not toward politics, but toward humanity and its default impulses as a whole, and in so doing it continues and enhances the best of what hardcore punk had to offer.

Read full review on Death Metal Underground

 

THREE – GAG America’s Greatest Hits

GAG could have released Pilot/Havana Spliff as a one sided 7″ and I would have been completely satisfied coming home after a long day and breaking beer bottles while listening to it on repeat until I was evicted. Fortunately for those unfortunate enough to choose to be around me, “Steel Forced Twin” starts strong with what might be my favorite bass line of the record, and I’m wishing I could have written something this crushing yet catchy in the past year. You can hear that the drums are being beaten brutally, but not without a well appreciated superlative finesse I’ve grown to search out in “extreme” “music.”

The opening lines of “Nobody’s home…” being repeated in the first few seconds of “Wal-Mart Reality” remind me of GISM’s Sakevi, though once the song kicks in, a style all their own aggressively agitates in an almost unnerving attitude. Preeminent transitions in tempo affix the album together and effectively make it a cohesive piece, as opposed to an amalgamation of ideas forced onto a slab of vinyl. “Locker Room,” as heard on the 7″ of the same name, sounds not so dissimilar from it’s former recording other than slightly less reverb on the vocals but is a good reminder of how powerful of a song it is.

Read the full review here

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TWO – TRAP THEM Crown Feral

Trap Them’s LP Crown Feral came out Sept. 23rd via Prosthetic Records, and it shows how fucking venomous Trap Them can be – it sandblasts its way into your eardrums and poisons your braincells with pure rage! The perfect, venomous follow up to Darker Handcraft.

 

ONE – NAILS You Will Never Be One of Us

Where Abandon All Life was speared with towering, dual riffing contributed to by Andy Saba, here those same moments are nuanced, gifted with a serrated urgency that NAILS layers on like scar tissue over scar tissue. That album allowed paced breaks from their unapologetic sound, with “Wide Open Wound” giving your neck a lulling break amid the blackout haze of the rest of the album. Here we find an album that takes no rests, not even slow brooding ones. The over-the-top approach did wonders for their seminal second LP, YWNBOOU goes right for the throat rather than snarling and occasionally snapping at it; this is a more direct beast. Taylor Young’s drums blast fluidly from punk-laden two-step, to grindcore hailstorm, to easing into a style reminiscent of Effigy of the Forgotten. Young’s snare is a highlight, tuned like a hollowed enemy skull from which NAILS drinks plentifully, its reverberation finding life despite its emptiness, namely on “Violence is Forever.” Here they maintain a hyperspeed cadence that explodes into a purposefully mutilated and effective Slayer solo before morphing into a molten pit churning breakdown, just to remind you that this is a hardcore record.

Despite the initial whiff of exclusion, this is a work that wants you to join in, but it won’t be easy, like anything worth fighting for. With You Will Never Be One of Us, NAILS has laid out a path that few of their peers could adequately tread, aesthetically and technically. Ending this path is NAILS’ beacon, lit with a triumphant fire, glowing with a blaze that beckons you to decide whether or not to walk the scorched earth between here and there.

Read the full review here

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The Author

Meghan

Meghan

Meghan MacRae grew up in Vancouver, Canada, but spent many years living in the remote woods. Living in the shadow of grizzly bears, cougars and the other predators of the wilderness taught her about the dark side of nature, and taught her to accept her place in nature's order as their prey. She is co-founder of CVLT Nation webzine and clothing.

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Ash Desordre
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Mike Hill

Jeremy Kitchen
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That “Cro Flanagan” album fucking BLOWS

Mike
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Mike

Blissfucker was between Darker Handcraft and Crown Feral

Darren Bourne
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Darren Bourne

Sunshine Ward 12″ & Green Beret 12″ should be in that list

Mick Brochu
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This list is shit.

Brad Luck
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no blood pressure on a top 10 hardcore albums for 2016? they didnt hear the blood pressure record. thats the only logical reason its not on there 10 times.

Brad Luck
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Mick Brochu
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Or Arms Race 12″, or Warthog EP, or NYC HEADHUNTERS EP. Half these bands aren’t even “hardcore”. Horrible metallic hardcore is all I see.

Brad Luck
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i will say i fuck with that pure disgust record.

Mick Brochu
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That GAG record is on point too.

Brad Luck
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I still haven’t checked that out. I wasn’t blown away by the one record.

Andrej Duh
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Gag was released last year.

Trent Barclay
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Like Rats was number 1 for me!

Nathan Craig
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Kyle !

Kyle Cooper
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Fuckin hellllllll