19 Great Hardcore Punk Records from 2021 You Might Have Missed

Dissekerad (Photo: Michael Thorn)

Do you remember? For two, maybe three weeks back in June it felt like the world was going back to a slight feeling of normality. Shows were being announced, masks were coming off, then it all came crashing down and COVID cases began to rise again. New variants began stalking us in the oozing muck of other people’s precious bodily fluids and here we are again dealing with the arrogance of idiocy and selfishness putting up a wall of necessary caution and restraint to prevent a premature association with the great beyond. 

The one good thing to come out of the collective misery of the last two years has been the explosion of quality hardcore and punk. It is as though the collective angst and malaise we’ve all suffered under just burst like a cyst upon the face of god. 

The poet, Anthoni Civarelli, one posited “stage dives make me feel more alive than coded messages coded messages in slowed down songs” and so as I creep ever closer to the great abyss, these are the auditory documents from this year which provide respite from the slumbering march towards finality. 

Bootlicker, Bootlicker (Neon Taste Records/Static Shock Records)

I’ve had three different opportunities to see this Canadian D-beat powerhouse and somehow have failed to do so each time—listening to this LP I’m filled with even more regret about never having witnessed them.

Look, imagine Lemmy fronting Totalitär—catching, energetic hardcore punk that leans more towards the classic Swedish style, though more Missbrukarna and less Anti Cimex. Just outstanding.

The Chisel, Retaliation (La Vida Es Un Mus)

To be honest, I stand in total awe at this album. It's this perfect mix of the best British Oi! bands of days long past while giving the occasional nod to the epic, street fighting sensibilities of Conflict. No plodding bullshit—just hammers along at this thunderous clip.

It’s aggro without descending into dunderheaded dullness and it’s melodic but not pop—more anthemic in that Cockney Rejects sort of way. Absolutely brilliant. Skins win.

Candy Apple, Sweet Dreams of Violence (Convulse Records)

Noisey mid-tempo punk rock that moves along at this rollicking clip. It's got this really cool trashy, garagey recording style—like the if the Oblivions were playing hardcore. Lots of interesting riffage which descend into these unsettling and spooky breakdowns. Killer stuff.

Dissekerad, Inre Strid (Desolate Records/Phobia Records)

Do I really need to tell you that this is good? Of course this is good—it's more mid-paced and sounds more like Totalitär,  albeit with a heavier, slightly more metallic feel, but still that consistently powerful Swedish hardcore assault. Perfect record!

Dollhouse, The First Day of Spring (Toxic State Records)

The first thing which grabs me about this is ranting vocal style - which makes me think of Doc Dart from Crucifucks or even a bit of the lad from Moss Icon’s longer tyrades.

There is a dark and foreboding fog that permeates the record in general, despite the first three tracks being fairly straight forward 1-2, pukka pukka punk but it all comes careening down in the final five minute plus title track. It feels a bit like a total mental meltdown but in all the best possible ways.

Drill Sergeant, Vile Ebb (Convulse Records)

This rules—alternating between stomping hardcore and Infest/Crossed Out style brutality it is sort of everything I want in a hardcore band. It's got hooks, it's got speed, it's tough but not like macho tough. More more more more—it's everything the demo promised they could be and more. 

Exil, Warning (Armageddon Label)

Raging Swedish hardcore rammed through Poison Idea filter—its a hammerdown onslaught of ripping punk which proceeds at a relentless pace with plenty of rollicking rocknroll swagger. 

Think more Kings of Punk and less Blank Blackout Vacant in the speed department but maintaining an emphasis on heavy, catchy riffs. Exciting, fist punching, stage diving hardcore.

Gauze, 言いたかねえけど目糞鼻糞 (XXX Records)

I mean Gauze released a new record—of course it's going to be good. Have they ever really released a turd? Lurching, chaotic, maniacal, twisting, rapid-fire hardcore that just pummels and blugeons your skull like a jackhammer. A healthy serving of gloriously raw, distorted mayhem from the masters.

Ideation, Blunt Instrument Demo (Dynastic Yellow Star Label)

Was lucky enough to catch these Floridians recently and they just fucking leveled the place—ferocious hardcore that hits like a boot to the head. Just a monster of a demo tape—hope this band is onward to great things soon! Stop reading this and go order it now. 

Mess, Fuego, fuego, fuego (Mendeku Diskak)

I really wish this group of punks from Mexico got a bit more notice, especially here in the states. They released two EPs this past year but for me this is the better of two - boot down, thumping Blitz/UK82 style hardcore punk just soaked in melodic leads which produces of visions of stage filling singalongs.

Nervous SS/Rat Cage, Skopje Vs Sheffield (La Vida Es Un Mus)

YES YES YES! The Nervous SS stuff here is so sick—pedal to the floor, energy infused D-beat that is the same line as Larma or Skit Kids. Just go-go-go! I love it.

On the flip, Sheffield’s Rat Cage continue the audio onslaught, blasting through five of their own tracks of Heresy-meets-Sweden, pummelling hardcore and wrap it up with a stellar cover UK Subs’ “Emotional Blackmail.” Just unreal.

Quarantine, Agony (La Vida Es Un Mus)

Snarling, hammer to the face, ugly as sin hardcore punk out of the friendliest city on Earth, Philadelphia. Burly in a Paul Bearer meets the guy from United Mutation sorta way with bits of Greg Ginn style guitar noodling and hints of My America-era FUs ferocity. It's a monster of a record.

Jade Dust, Jade Dust (Extinction Burst)

Just give me all your mid-'80s era DC/Dischord sounds and slam it straight into my veins. Emo in the punk sort of way, not as in a marketing term to sell shit pop bands to college kids.

Think Rites of Spring, Rain, etc. I’ve been in love with this band since the first time I heard their demo and I just want more, more, more—pay attention!

Slant, 1집 (Iron Lung Records)

Yo. This is outstanding—like the prior releases from this Korean powerhouse hinted at what was to come but I didn’t think it’d be this good—10 tasty rippers of thrashing hardcore in that Tørsö sorta way. It just sizzles and cooks—nodding equally to the Youth of Today school as the Discharge way of life.

Lots of cool breakdowns, occasional rocknroll guitar flourishes and a vocalist that is just absolutely ferocious. Don’t fuck up, get on board with this party now!

Smirk, E.P. (Iron Lung Records)

Slashing, Killed By Death-style punk rock in that garagey, mid-'80s, UK indie punk, C86 sorta way. Like if you made me tape and this was right after Desperate Measures, before Orange Juice and accompanied by a bunch of obscure bands from New Zealand from 1979, I would be like, “cheers for the tape, all this shit sounds tight and fits together well.” I could listen to this over and over.

Spritual Cramp, Here Comes More Bad News (Industry Standards)

I love Spiritual Cramp—like seriously how can one band be so perfect?

Their songs are these perfectly crafted, angst filled nuggets of explosive rage rammed through a ‘77 punk filter but here’s the thing, it doesn’t sound one bit dated. Get down with this shit. 

Taqbir, Victory Belongs to Those Who Fight for a Right Cause (La Vida Es Un Mus)

Mechanized, sharp, staccato hardcore from a group of Morrocan ex-pats taking a critical wrecking ball the culture they grew up in—sung in Arabic the lyrics are a pointed assault on the patriacrchal and opressive nature of their homeland.

Musically it's a noisy stomping blast akin to Spanish noise-meisters Destino Final if they were fronted by Chitose from The Comes.

Seein Red/Under Attack, Seein Red Vs. Under Attack (Autoreverse Records/Way Back When Records)

I love this record so very much—for one thing, its great to see the Dutch kings of absurdly fast hardcore return after way too long. Four tracks of jack hammering, lightening fast, decidedly left wing hardcore in the manner they’ve been doing for almost 40 years (if you are counting their time in Lärm. It's a masterclass.

On the flip we have Richmond’s own Under Attack, who crank up the speed for their part and contribute four tracks of their own hyperspeed attack. It's certainly a step up from the demo, which I liked, but this feels like a band coming into their own and I’m totally here for it. 

Yleiset Syyt, Umpikujamekanismi (Open Up And Bleed Recordings)

Classic Finnish hardcore sound played by real life Finnish punks! A snotty, spastic romp of stripped down hardcore punk with total trashed out garagey production. Total fucking perfection.


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