5. Of Feather and Bone: Pious Abnormality (Self-released, United States)
As a band whose output culminated in last year’s Embrace the Wretched Flesh, it’s a wonder that Of Feather and Bone could go even harder. Setting their usual grinded, crusty hardcore as a template, this Colorado trio seemingly tested their limits and depravity with this unholy brand of deathgrind. At only two songs, this is but a sampling of what is to come, but be warned, this is a full course meal made from broken bones.
4. G.L.O.S.S: Trans Day of Revenge (Total Negativity, United States)
Raw and equipped with relentless vitriol, G.L.O.S.S—officially “Girls Living Outside Society’s Shit”—has been a short lived force in forward thinking punk. Like the seminal Limp Wrist before them, G.L.O.S.S. are unapologetically queer and militant, roaring their LGBTQ like a sentient flamethrower. Released shortly before announcing their break-up, “Trans Day of Revenge” is an assault on homophobia and general oppression and their 2015 demo, is destined to be a queercore classic.
3. Withdrawal: Never (Escapist Records, Canada)
Nine years, a grip of smaller releases and much anticipation have led to this album, which is Withdrawal’s first. Long satiating appetites with their EPs, Unknown Misery and Faith, Flesh and Blood, the wait has been long, but the aptly titled Never was well worth that tested patience. Combining the best elements of ‘90s and ‘00s metalcore with the esoteric Holy Terror motifs of Catharsis and Integrity, Withdrawal have crafted this year’s most unique hardcore record.
2. Blood Incantation: Starspawn (Dark Descent Records, United States)
Progressive and succinct, Blood Incantation’s debut LP is among the best death metal albums this decade. A spatial haze of bleak melodies and ethereal hooks, Starspawn plays like a mid-career Death album dreaming about Cynic’s Focus. Yet, Blood Incantation eschews being derivative in favor of a fresh sound, compacting five tracks with fully realised ideas that neither overstate or underwhelm. Starspawn moves like a black hole consuming whole galaxies; you best be on the lookout.
1. Gatecreeper: Sonoran Depravation (Relapse Records, United States)
One of my favourite bands of recent years, this Arizonan quintet has ridden nearly unprecedented momentum generated solely by their intense self-titled EP and constant touring. It came as zero surprise when Relapse Records snapped them up to release this glorious and violent debut. Playing like an early incarnation of Entombed covering Merauder’s Master Killer while taking cues from Obituary, Sonoran Depravation headbangs and moshes in all the right ways. Affectionate to their influences without being derivative, Gatecreeper breathe new life into that tried-and-true Swedish sound while flavoring it with hardcore’s unmatched style. Throw on your combat boots (or Vans) and tread this left-hand path.
Bruce Hardt hails from Tucson, Arizona. He's an irate nerd and bleeding heart leftist, worshipper of the war goddess Sigourney Weaver and Taco Bell connoisseur. He's also written countless words on punk and hardcore for the likes of CVLT Nation, Invisible Oranges and WRKNG OVRTME zine.