I don’t rank my end-of-year lists. That’s not because I’m a contrary prick – although, I am. It’s mainly because I’m not really interested in winners or losers. I just want to celebrate all the noise I enjoyed this year, as a whole. My end-of-year punk list below features scores of unruly releases, and I hope you discover a rowdy treasure or two to enjoy. Still to come are my end-of-year posts covering riotous punk demos and New Zealand noise. Thanks for stopping by. Enjoy the ruckus.
War//Plague: Into the Depths (Phobia)
Minneapolis punk veterans War//Plague celebrated their 10th anniversary this year by delivering 10 tracks of utterly uncompromising (and utterly crushing) crust. The band’s hard-hitting Into the Depths album reaffirmed that War//Plague’s rage and passion remain undiminished.
Extinction of Mankind: Storm of Resentment (Agipunk)
UK crust legends Extinction of Mankind formed in the early 90s, and their Storm of Resentment LP proved that the years haven’t wearied the band one itoa. Extinction of Mankind’s burly guitars and anarchic attack were as sonically savage and as lyrically aggressive as ever. Gumming: Human Values (Not Normal Tapes)
Gumming's vocalist, Emilie, has a voice that cuts deep as much as it’s abrasively unnerving. Gumming's Human Values album featured dissonant and skewed noise punk that’ll make you smirk and squirm but mostly shudder in twisted ecstasy.
Pissblood: Pissblood (Vrasubatlat)
Pissblood’s full-length debut was inhumanly brutal with the band injecting raw Japanese hardcore into d-beat, crust and råpunk. Perfectly primitive punk. And a raging vortex of audio violence. Ugly as fuck noise – for an even uglier year.
Ambush: Deafening Violence (Diabolus)
Ambush features members who play in crashing and crushing d-beat band Aspects of War. Unsurprisingly, Ambush’s vicious Deafening Violence 12” was an absolute onslaught of deranged noise punk. It’s an essential LP for fans of remorseless and raw chaos. As sick as sick gets...4realz. Deviated Instinct: Husk (Terminal Filth)
The latest EP from thundering UK crust legends Deviated Instinct showcased the continuing strengths of their bulldozing blend of heavyweight punk and the filthiest strains of ’eavy metal.Husk proved Deviated Instinct’s hostile sound grows evermore demolishing with every passing year. #sofuckinggood #keepthenoisecoming
Akrasia: First Demons – Birth of the Void (Ruin Nation)
Akrasia’s First Demons – Birth of the Void album exhibited the heavy (and extremely heady) influence of Amebix, Venom, and Hawkwind – three of my favourites. The band promised a “cataclysmic crust-monster”, and they definitely delivered with mind-smashing hardcore and down-and-dirty atmospherics.
Tragedy: Fury (Tragedy Records)
Tragedy’s surprise return in 2018 was a powerful reminder of exactly why they’re so revered. Fury’s feral songs harked back to the band’s crushing roots. Primal rage fuelled Tragedy’s cathartic anthems, with ripping guitars, scorching leads, and shout-along choruses galore.
Instinct of Survival//Asocial Terror Fabrication: Split (Doomed to Extinction Records)
The 12” split between Tokyo stenchcore crew Asocial Terror Fabrication and long-running German crusties Instinct of Survival was a fetid and furious feast. Instinct of Survival contributed rapid and raw hardcore with an extra-harsh old-school bite. Asocial Terror Fabrication contributed three bursts of impressively hideous and hulking noise. Murderous magic – all round.
Contrast Attitude: 12-Track Compilation (Distort Reality)
This year’s 12-track compilation from Japanese crust icons Contrast Attitude featured a dozen previously released songs. The comp was a windfall for anyone searching for Contrast Attitude’s early EPs. Shout out to label Distort Noise for collecting the band’s raw apocalyptic noise into a handy, albeit ear-splitting, package. Lifeless Dark: Who Will Be the Victims? (Self-released)
Boston band Lifeless Dark fuse stenchcore with thrash. And the band's vocalist, Elaine, howled hell-for-leather on their bruising Who Will Be the Victims? debut. Even better, Lifeless Dark got the nod from Fenriz, with the Darkthrone mainstay praising the band’s sound for evoking old guard icons like Sacrilege and kin.
Life: The Only One Earth (Hardcore Survives)
The Only One Earth was the latest 7” from the always awe-inspiring Japanese punks Life. Of course, Life also happen to be off-the-grid crusties, and that means I can’t find a streamable version of The Only One Earth to share with you. Trust me, though, it’s a gnashing and crashing triumph. Enjoy the band’s phenomenal Violence, Peace and Peace Research LP instead. Geld: Perfect Texture (Iron Lung)
Priors: S/T (La Vida Es un Mus)
Pest: Decay (Lost in Fog)
Oz band Geld's Perfect Texture LP was a sanity-shredding (and staggeringly good) nightmare filled with abrasive d-beat and free-form psychedelic madness. Priors’ equally schizophrenic debut was rightly touted as “howling and screaming like an acid trip gone wrong”. And fellow ockers Pest brought grim dystopian punk to the fore with “politically charged” hardcore and the echo of Discharge and Anti-Cimex tearing through their ultra-bludgeoning debut.
Bootlicker: Who Do You Serve? (Warthog Speak)
Canadian band Bootlicker's latest 7" featured more of their stampeding "Discharge-meets-Totalitär slurry". All the dials here were set on UK82 – and the subsequent blown-out and d-beaten punk was as rank as a rotting rat.
Suffer the Pain: Hellbound (Phobia)
Swedish band Suffer the Pain delivered a mountain of formidable Motörcharged crust on their Hellbound LP. The band also dug deep into the filthiest gutters of black and death metal for inspiration. Total barbaric brilliance.
Arms Race: The Beast EP (Painkiller)
The Flex: Flexual Healing Vol. 7 EP (Painkiller)
Mere Mortal: Tartarus (Quality Control HQ)
Arms Race followed up their classic New Wave of British Hardcore debut with more ferocious and tension-fuelled hardcore on The Beast EP. Much like Arms Race, fellow Brits The Flex straddle the line between UK street punk and US hardcore, and they unleashed thick-necked mayhem on their Flexual Healing, Vol. 7. EP. Check out Mere Mortal's raw crossover exploits on their Tartarus debut too. The 12" features members of The Flex (and other bruising bands) digging into old-school hardcore and thrash.
Warthog: S/T (Toxic State Records)
The latest self-titled 7” from NYC punks Warthog came rocketing out of nowhere this year – and it landed right on the ‘instant classic’ pile once again. Warthog’s super-tight songs featured an increase in thrashing crossover punk framed by a merciless-sounding mix. Tour de force hardcore, for the psychopath in all of us.
Dog Soldier: Absolute Epic Horrors (Distort Reality)
Long-serving PDX punks Dog Soldier delivered more ruthless heavyweight happenings on their Absolute Epic Horrors LP. Inspired by English Dogs and the Exploited (etc), Dog Soldier proved there’s still plenty of untapped rage and rowdiness to be mined from punk’s classic roots. (Sorry, no album embed available for Absolute Epic Horrors. Enjoy a live track or two.) Ojo por Ojo: S/T (La Vida Es un Mus)
Desgrasia Jubenil: Màxico (Cintas Pepe)
Who doesn’t love fucking scorching Mexican punk? The releases from Ojo por Ojo and Desgrasia Jubenil featured feedback-driven hardcore conjuring the passion and troubles of modern-day Mexico. Fuelled by raw distortion and rawer anger, you don’t need to speak Spanish to appreciate there was as much blood on Ojo por Ojo and Desgrasia Jubenil’s strings as there was fire in their hearts.
Fatum: Edge of the Wild (Zay-Nin Records)
Russian stenchcore band Fatum sounded heavily inspired by the likes of Venom and Motörhead on their latest album, Edge of the Wild. The band’s Hell-hammering crust and hardcore stonk featured more whirlwind old-school metal and flying solos than ever.
偏執症者 (Paranoid): Heavy Mental Fuck-Up! (Konton Crasher)
Lawless Swedish hardcore crew 偏執症者 (Paranoid) blend d-beat and Disclose-inspired noise punk with raw Venom-esque black metal. The band’s 2018 album, Heavy Mental Fuck-Up!, was their most metal release yet. Inspired by vintage bands and old-school attitude aplenty, the album was still punk at heart with its obnoxious tone and frenzied temper.
Vanity: Evening Reception (Beach Impediment Records)
Hank Wood and the Hammerheads: S/T (Toxic State Records)
Most punk bands remain fairly entrenched in their creative corners throughout their lifespans. However, a few welcome change and incorporate wider influences. NYC bands Vanity and Hank Wood and the Hammerheads have embraced the latter career path, and they both dropped storming albums this year that mixed garage punk with wild-eyed rock 'n' roll.
Atrament (Sentient Ruin Laboratories)
Atrament’s crusty creative cauldron boils with the anarchic anger of Doom and Discharge, the snarl/spite of black metal, and plenty of death metal's barbarity too. The band's über-nihilistic Scum Sect album was one of this year’s grimiest successes, with hate, not hope, and a mountain of misanthropy reigning supreme.
Discommand: Hell Is Here (Librarion Records)
Disclone: Once the Genocide Started (Self-released)
German band Discommand's Hell Is Here was as heavy as an artillery barrage and it featured non-stop salvos of 10-tonne (and death/doom metal-driven) stenchcore. Austrian punks Disclone unashamedly worship raw punk legends Disclose, and their Once the Genocide Started EP featured buzz-sawing bass and brain-buckling riffs tussling it out with demented noise.
Stigmatism: S/T EP (Beach Impediment Records)
Stigmatism’s steel-cap-booted hardcore was constructed from as much pissed-off bovver boy rage as it was fist-pumping NYHC passion. As old-school as old-school gets. Rude. Crude. And raw af.
Systemik Viølence: Anarquia-Violência (Raw 'n' Roll Rex)
Systemik Viølence smashed black-hearted råpunk into even rawer metal on their Anarquia-Violência 7”. Crude, corrosive, and deliberately confrontational, Systemik Viølence’s noxious noise is as nasty as an acid burn.
Vägra: Last Breath (Self-released)
Alienation: Bitter Reality (Warthog Speak)
Arseholes: Nevermind the…. Here's the.... (Self-released)
Some days you just want to listen to an obnoxious racket that’ll annihilate your stresses, and Vägra’s blown-out and brutal Last Breath EP fell into that category this year. So did Alienation’s ferociously disagreeable Bitter Reality album. Even better was Arseholes’ 10/10 blast of brute-force and ugly-as-sin shitnoise on Nevermind the…. Here's the…. (Arseholes features members from Pollen and Neverending Mind War – so expect red-raw pandemonium.)
Dead Hunt: S/T (Agipunk)
The self-titled debut from Portland punks Dead Hunt was palpably inspired by Japan's Burning Spirits scene. The band mixed the MO of Death Side, Forward, and Tetsu Arei with shredding speed metal and burly crust that tipped its hat to the Exploited and Broken Bones. Dead Hunt’s debut was unrelentingly intense, and a truly savage success.
Narcoleptics: 2018 EP (Warthog Speak)
Extended Hell: S/T (Razored Raw)
Scalple: World Gone Bad (Roach Leg Records)
Narcoleptics, Extended Hell, and Scalple hail from the bowels of NYC, and they all make all-guns-blazing hardcore. Narcoleptics’ filthy 2018 EP was likely their last, but they exited on a crashing kängpunk high. Extended Hell’s raging/ripping tour tape and self-titled debut were reissued by local label Razored Raw this year. And Scalple’s World Gone Bad was a breakneck blast of virulent hardcore that's well worth tracking down.
Apocalypse / Extinction of Mankind: Split (Distro-y Records)
The hefty split from OG LA punks Apocalypse and UK crusties Extinction of Mankind was a trans-Atlantic triumph. Apocalypse returned from years in the wilderness with a couple of pounding tracks that were fiercely anarchic and even heavier than their past endeavours. And Extinction of Mankind turned in a brutal and burly crust crasher too. Twice the #oosh.
Foza Común: Kobra (Cuáuhtli)
Long Beach punks Foza Común are closely intertwined with the notorious Black Twilight Circle – as well as being aligned with terror crust thugs Zoloa. The band’s debut featured breakneck and bleeding-raw crust (sung in Spanish) and much like the murderous Zoloa, Foza Común sound like villainous harbingers of doom.
Headsplitters: Tomorrow (Brain Solvent Propaganda)
Blood Pressure: Surrounded (Beach Impediment Records)
The debut EP from New York band Headsplitters, and the latest 12” from Pittsburgh punks Blood Pressure, shared a similarly full-throttle approach to celebrating the joys of chest-crushing hardcore this year. Even better, both bands’ concussive releases showed a deep appreciation for tough-as-tungsten crossover punk.
Dirty Wombs: Accursed to Overcome (SPHC Records)
Greek punk band Dirty Wombs paid tribute to tone and temper of blistering Japanese hardcore on their 2018 Accursed to Overcome LP. Sizzling melodies echoed the famed Burning Spirits sound, but scabby crust and scorching thrash writhed in the raucous mix too.
Sunshine Ward: Nuclear Ambitions (Bloody Master Records)
Sunshine Ward's Nuclear Ambitions LP featured stripped-down hardcore that dispensed with all the filler and fripperies in favour of a pedal-to-the-metal mayhem. Expect gruff grunts, rougher and tougher riffs, and a downright meteoric momentum.
Nag: Nagged to Death (Frysisk Format)
Norwegian punk/metal trio Nag's second album, Nagged to Death, indulged in plenty of HM-2 reverence. The band’s high-energy songs barrelled along, scattering hooks aplenty, and Nag adhered to their "dark, hard, primitive, aggressive … and a bit strange" ethos from start to finish.
Candy: Good to Feel (Triple B Records)
Jesus Piece: Only Self (Southern Lord)
I don’t generally go in for muscular metallic hardcore. However, Candy and Jesus Piece’s 2018 albums featured ultra-harsh and ultra-heavy maelstroms that explored far darker, discordant and more musically adventurous pathways than any stock-standard metalcore. Absolute knockout victories x 2.