I feel like hardcore is very much a genre where you either sink or swim. You either become a legend or you fade rapidly into obscurity. If you can't keep topping yourself, you're ousted quickly by even younger kids than yourself. Hardcore is one of the few careers where you can be washed up by your mid-20s.
So who's in and who's out? Who's making waves and who's on the decline? Quite frankly, that would take too long to list, and I'd probably be wrong. However, I can give you some ideas on who the most valuable players in today's scene are, and who you might be looking at to headline Chaos in Tejas by next summer.
5. Enabler No one is working harder to build a name for themselves right now than Jeff Lohrber and his outfit Enabler. They've cycled through members and labels like toilet paper, but their full-length for Southern Lord, All Hail the Void, was one of 2012's top-of-the-pile hardcore releases of 2012.
Since they've only spent time expanding their sound and their reach. This year has seen the release of two stellar EPs. Shift of Redemption saw an expansion into the domain of more intricate, layered type of hardcore often heard from bands like Converge, while their just-dropped Flies EP is a cycle of no-bullshit straightforward aggression. Both show a band brimming with talent and ready to explode with their next full-length record.
4. Trash Talk Few hardcore bands have a higher profile right now than Trash Talk. That's because not all hardcore bands get to hang out with Tyler, the Creator and the biggest rap crew going today. It's not undeserved either. These guys do work their asses off, especially live, a fact I've detailed here before.
Now that Trash Talk has former Mars Volta drummer and technical wiz Thomas Pridgen in the fold, they're really cooking with fire. They're currently writing a new record with him right now, to be released on Odd Future Records (just like their last one), and I have a good feeling that this thing is going to be a mammoth of an album when we finally get to hear it.
3. Iron Reagan Right off the bat, this band's membership carries some weight. The band features Municipal Waste's Tony Foresta and Philip "Landphil" Hall (also of Cannabis Corpse) with Paul Burnette and Ryan Parrish, former members of Darkest Hour. But lest you get any ideas from those bands, this project is entirely dirty, vintage-sounding hardcore.
On their first full-length Worse Than Dead, which dropped back in March, Iron Reagan announced their intentions by running through 19 heavy, fast, crushing tracks straight out of the real Reagan era, with not one running to the two-minute mark. They parlayed that into a big tour with GWAR and Whitechapel (hitting Warehouse Live October 24), so look for these guys to only gain in stature from here on out.
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2. Touche Amore I'm going to be honest here: I'm a huge proponent of Touche Amore, but they seem to be resting on their laurels a bit. Their newest record, Is Survived By, plays a whole lot like their last two records. Not that we're looking at a case of diminishing returns. The band can still pack a huge emotional punch when they want to, and they succeed throughout the record in doing that.
Regardless of my vague feeling that they might be stagnating a little bit creatively, the band is hotter than ever. Is Survived By hit No. 86 on the Billboard 200, and No. 1 on the Vinyl Sales chart. It's not often you hear a band in their vein who have achieved such commercial success, but there you go. Hedge your bets on these guys sticking it out as one of your go-to headliners for a few more years to come (at least after they finish opening for AFI at Warehouse Live on Thursday).
1. Nails Holy hell, has anyone else released anything as heavy and as crazy this year as Nails' sophomore album, Abandon All Life? Another great Southern Lord release, it comes bearing the production of legendary Converge guitarist Kurt Ballou. The band really dug deep to get even fucking heavier than their debut record, but they managed to top themselves.
These guys are really riding high right now, so it's no surprise that they top this list. Expect more absolute hardcore insanity from them in the years to come. Plus, man of the hour drummer Taylor Young is making headway playing guitar in his other band, Twitching Tongues, which Rocks Off has previously named a band to watch this year. These guys are seriously taking over the world of heavy music.
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