This is the first time punk and hardcore has gotten its own list, normally it was divided into the goth or metal lists. If you are looking for shitty 1,2,3 go... punk then look else where. If you are looking for attitude but no ability to play their instruments keep clicking as well. That means there are all shades of punk and hard core from it's many eras from CBGB 70's to Post- Myspace. The two genres are equally divided half and half here. Some have a few metal moments some have a few goth, but would you expect anything else from my Top 10 punk and hardcore albums of 2015.
10- Calabrese -" Lust For Sacrilege"
Going into this I only know this band plays Dragon-con on a regular basis and also does the horror-con circuit which is why they are one of my friend's favorite bands. They have cool monster themed t-shirts.The opener is like a dark wave Tears For Fears which is better than some of the Volbeat hard-rock. The singer has a good voice, so much so that is carries the otherwise bland "Down in Misery". They use to be a horror punk with a touch of shock a billy, this however is well produced but straight rock.Many punk bands go this route once they gain a little more command of their instruments. You can hear the Misfits influence still lingering on "Teenage Crime Wave".My initial thoughts on the album is these guys are better than I thought they would be as it's not just one to three go and all of the rock-a billy elements if they were ever there are shed for a more rock approach.
9-No Omega: "Occupants"
This ep by the Swedish band No Omega came out back in April, so I am not sure how it slipped past me. They take another step in a more metallic direction in their attempt to create darker hardcore, this how how thin of a line it can be between the two genres. Some post- rock influenced sections even float in on the first song. This is more melodic than what I have heard from the bands previous work. By the second song the lyrics which are encouraging the person to whom they are directed to "stay and face their problems" which is more of a hardcore lyric than a metal lyric. It is also more straight forward bordering on punk in the simplistic arrangement. This one eases back on intensity and darkness, but finds the band taking a step forward in other ways. A good album, I'm a hard judge after having grown up listening to Converge it makes you jaded when it comes to a hard core band experimenting. But they are the best of the current crop.
Hellbastard features appearances from ex- members of Amebix so I suppose I'll have to watch what I write since members of Amebix have gotten butt hurt over things I have said about side projects. This is was more metal than the side project which shall not be named. There is a slight Motorhead tinge to the vocals, though they get really fucking cool around the chorus, when drenched in effects and set back into the mix. Otherwise it gets off to a pretty thrashing start. This takes you back to that place in the 80s where metal and punk met. The guitars and the drums fit tightly together to pack a dense punch into these riff. The lyrics are more punk and have sharp sense of humor to them. What the vocals might lack in range they make up for in attitude. This album is well produced and everything sit right where it needs to. Some of the riffing might be a little more straight forward than what I listen to now, but this is right in line with some of the more on the fringe thrash that I listened to as a teenager. http://abysmalhymns.blogspot.com/2015/07/hellbastard-feral.html
7-Gallows -"Desolate Sounds"
On first listen this album confused me so that I had to go back and listen to the band's first album "Orchestra of Wolves" to figure out what happened. It's a change to the magnitude of that AFI made. Several elements contributed to this such as the fact they now have Alexisonfire singer Wade Mcneil on the mic brought about some of the changes.The herky jerky guitar carries some sentiment of the band they used to be , despite the big chorus of "Even bad dreams are too good for you". The title track is very influenced by New Model Army and a little more punk. The more screamed vocals have more of a metal feel to them and the distorted filter slapped on in post-production adds to this. Overall this album sounds good and it has some songs on it that I really like and more or less none that are fast forward classics. If you are a fan of the direction the band has gone with Wade then you will like this one too.
6-Enabler: " Fail to Feel Safe"
There was a good bit of drama surrounding this album, which had nothing to do with the music , but had bloggers speculating as to if this album would even see release. The drama involves accusations made against the singer by his ex-girl friend who also played bass in the band.Truth be told only the people involved know the truth, so I don't give a fuck about anything but the music. The music in question is a dark style of very metallic hard-core that crossover past the point of being able to see what which genre is which. Jeff Lohrber , who has played in Today is the Day and Trap Them is the ring leader creating something that falls closer to Myspace metal in some ways than say Converge, but I like the prophetic title track "Fail to Feel Safe". There is an chaotic element to their sound that is still confined to the context of the song. this angry album is more emotionally rawer than most of the other more mainstream slanted metal Century Media will be releasing will hear this year. I think it is still rough enough around the edges so that fans who have stuck with the band up to this point will dig it, I like it better than some of their more underground peers like Xibalba as there are more layers and melody kicked into the density and is a well crafted addition to the genre is represents.
5-Lightning Bolt: "Fantasy Empire"
I am not sure if you would call Lightning Bolt metal, but the influence they have had on Liturgy is undeniable, even from the first song on this new album which is their first album in six years. The thick distortion and the relentless herky jerk of the duo's attack, is almost every thing black metal should be. it does lack the key component being evil, instead these guys are mean. They are sonic bullies. There is a math rock element to what they do . This is given crystal meth. It finds a turbulence that blast beats create without ever having to play a real blast beat. There is a noisy color to the painting they are throwing colors at, but to call it noise rock misses the point.This album seems to be rougher than previous work the raw monster tone of "Dream Genie" finds the vocals that stay buried in the guitar's distortion for the entire album , heading in more of a Today is the Day direction. The drummer is insane often reminding me of homeboy from Hella. This album achieves the perfect balance of being lo-fi yet sounding good.
Metal, punk or just some avant garde noise rock, all of which seems to be colliding on this album. The band's primary sound is dissonance which in turn creates their darkness. They have been labelled as hardcore, a term seriously brought into question by the guitar's 60s garage rock warble that off sets to more malicious metal edge of the vocals , that are not too far off from being black metal. I would say they are more firmly planted in punk than what we think of as hard-core. The layered vocals at the chorus on "Days" are no more hard core than anything from Darkthrone's black n roll days. The chaotically blurred genre lines aside they capture some mesmerizing sound and take the sound down some unexpected dark alleys. They have a rowdy metal attack that jumps out from behind the corner of songs.
3-Anasazi : "Nasty Witch Rock"
Anasazi seems to drinking from the same bottle as Iceage, from the slurred stumble this song takes. They are without question much darker than the Danish punks. Dynamics take a shift from the dirty punk that drips of last night's rock n roll to a more dissonant driving. They don't decorate the songs with the sounds you might associate with death-rock, but the attitude of the L.A. underground is there.Overall this album touches a place other bands haven't. The intentionally rough production took a little warming up to, but the album demands repeat listens as it has both the heart and the attitude needed to carry the torch, which in the end justifies the band leaving some of the other trappings behind.
2-The Libertines : " Anthems For Doomed Youth"
When we talk punk here we are talking the early days of the New York Dolls and the Dead Boys, but with more of a mod streak. They got the band back together, after Doherty's tabloid worthy battle with addiction. I am not sure why I have never really given the band a shot until, now but what appeals to me is their admiration for the Smiths and Morrissey, which their sound winks at but is not dominated by. There is some crooning, but obviously they make no attempts to touch Morrissey...and really how could they?
1- Tidemouth :"Velvet And Stone"
If there had not been a hardcore/ punk list this year, this album would have been on the goth list. The trend in the maturation of hard core kids seems to be pulling out Nick Cave and Echo and the Bunnymen albums. This could be due to the interest in vinyl these kids took a few years back which might have caused them to stumble over these old 80s albums. I am fine with this as long as they do no become to slavish in their devotion only to Joy Division. I love Joy Division , but I do think dark music begins or ends with the. in the they do not abandon their hard core side. It is put through a darker filter. An incredible album that gives me just what I needed , they blend the "gothy" elements in a very fluid and natural manner similar to how Atriarch does this with metal. Each listen the more hard core emoish parts grew on me. It's one of those albums that becomes more enriched the further you dig into its grave. Worth your time for sure if you like dark and heavy music, these guys got the balance right without trying to hard.