Towards the end of each year, I start putting my mind to work by compiling a list of some of the newer groups from the hardcore scene I feel deserve some attention. In previous years, I've published the feature only to find out that one (or more) of the bands I highlighted were breaking up. That's obviously frustrating since I see that as a missed opportunity to slot in a different act that could have used the attention the feature gets since the list is one of the most trafficked posts on the site every year. But no matter how much I try to avoid that, it's an impossible task.
So, let's get into it, folks! Here is my list of the 12 Newer Hardcore Bands to Check Out in 2020. —Carlos Ramirez
Based in San Diego, Bayonet brings to mind the kind of stuff Max Ward released during the heydey of 625 Thrashcore. In other words, speed is the focus whenever Bayonet put together their material. Evidence can be found on the group's excellent Total Massacre EP from 2018. Heard below, their 2019 promo should get you psyched up for Bayonet's forthcoming new record in 2020.
If you fancy some power violence in your listening diet, Brain Tourniquet have your number. Featuring folks who have also played in such heavy-hitting bands as Red Death and Protestor, the group's 2019 EP on the Painkiller Records label brought me back to the early '90s when West Coast outfits like Crossed Out and Lack of Interest were influencing an entire wave of hardcore to come later in the decade.
Choice to Make
Worn, Strength for a Reason, and One Step Closer members joined forces to create Choice to Make with the purpose of delivering a lean and mean style of hardcore that tips its boots to classic Agnostic Front and Underdog. The Pennsylvania group is gearing up for the debut release for the Flatspot Records (Blind Justice, Adrenaline) with Vicious Existence, an EP that lives up to its menacing title.
One of the newer bands on the list this year, the Fact hail from Toronto and landed on my radar via my friend Philip Monahan who captured them in action through his still camera. Some serious Clevo vibes can be felt throughout the group's 2019 demo, which can only be a good thing in my book. Gruff vocals coupled with super-fat guitar riffs and crucial groove parts is a winning formula when it's brought forth with such conviction as heard on "Seein' Red," a track on the aforementioned Fact demo. I'm 100% in.
Gel is a New Jersey combo that No Echo contributor Adam Yoe described as "straightforward hardcore that draws from everything from early USHC, Youth Crew, and D-beat," in his 2019 piece about the Garden State musical miscreants. There will be no argument from me when it comes to my esteemed collaborator's assessment of the band. Gel's approach is both tough as fuck and, somehow, still as catchy as the common cold in the average child daycare center.
A few months back, Quality Control HQ (Big Cheese, Game) posted a teaser for Crown of Horns, the forthcoming debut album from Imposter. Though I enjoyed the UKHC unit's 2017 demo, the 4 teaser tracks kicked my ass harder and got me excited for their LP. The Boston hardcore love comes ripping through in a huge way on the new material, so if that's up your alley, hit the player below to become the latest Imposter believer.
One of the latest acts to join the New Age Records (Unbroken, Decline) label roster, Life Force play hardcore carved out of the Youth Crew spirit. Featuring former Shai Hulud guitarist Matt Fletcher, the Texas and Oklahoma-based straight edge band impressed me with their 2018 EP, The Impact. If Life Force can start touring and build momentum for their New Age debut, it shouldn't be too hard for the quartet's profile to rise considerably in the new year.
While it sucked to see Blood Pressure come to an end, at least we got Loose Nukes out of it. Comprised of members of the defunct Pittsburgh hardcore greats, Loose Nukes also includes musicians who have played in such bands as Sickoids and Dark Thoughts, to name a few. The Behind the Screen EP made a splash in 2019 with its blistering hardcore punk that is devoid of any metallic influences. I have yet to see Loose Nukes live yet, but my friends who have all offered gushing reviews.
Peace Test share the same love for '80s hardcore as the Loose Nukes dudes do, but there's more NYHC-ness in their take on things. The Providence, RI 4-piece dropped a demo and a 3-song promo last year and played gigs in the New England area. According to their own words in a recent interview, Peace Test are planning on releasing a record in 2020, so I'm looking forward to hearing what they cook up.
Pictured above fronting the late great Violent Reaction in 2017, Tom Pimlott is one of the most prolific musicians the hardcore scene has ever produced. Through the last 10 years, Tom has been a member of such UK groups as Arms Race, True Vision, Obstruct, Standpoint, and the Flex, which kicks all sorts of ass. Rated X is his latest hardcore-centered project that finds him doing the one-man band thing with pure power in the vein of classic straight edge hardcore that Revelation Records would have released, circa 1988.
With guitar solo help from Chris Corry (No Tolerance, Magic Circle), Tom told me earlier this week that he will be releasing a Rated X album via Painkiller Records (Waste Management, Brain Tourniquet) this year.
Bringing the kind of evil mosh bands like Year of the Knife and Judiciary have become beloved for, Delaware's Simulakra fall onto the darker side of metallic hardcore spectrum. Simulakra's membership includes musicians from Foreign Hands and Vicious Embrace, and the vocals give me a Jamey Jasta vibe around the time of Hatebreed's Under the Knife 7". Issued towards the end of 2019, Simulakra's Tales from the Fevered Subconscious EP has secured the band some heat just in time for the new year.
Syracuse straight edgers Stand Alone formed in 2019 by ex-members of Selective Aggression and Edge Control. Their 2019 demo showed a ton of promise, but it's their brand-new promo that got me truly behind the xXx crew. Stand Alone just kicked 2020 off in fine fashion by performing on a stacked bill with the likes of No Warning, Trail of Lies, and Mindforce as part of the Syracuse New Year's Day Matinee, so stay tuned for more from this killer outfit.