Written by Melinda (18+ only)
Melinda here, been laying low a couple months but I was merely studying the sword and now I’m back on my bullshit. If you’re new here, I run this website, I’m trans and I say stupid shit about sub genres a lot. In fact I even do that thing hardcore bands LOVE where I compare them to other hardcore bands. List season is an inevitability thrust upon us whether we are ready or not and I do not think too hard about the ranking. I go on a vibe based economy of “How did this make me FEEL?”. In fact there’s three number ones in my head so they aren’t numbered strictly beyond readability sake, just vaguely descending down to the absolute fucking obsessions I’ve had this year. Stay tuned for the next few weeks as we publish end of year lists from the rest of team as well as special guests!
PS. don’t forget to add a layer of sarcasm to everything you read. And shoutout to my trans readers, you are beautiful and I love you the most.
Here’s a playlist of my favorite songs from each entry.
25. Underoath – Voyeurist
I’m one of those weirdos who didn’t get into Underoath until the 2010s but I have consistently enjoyed their music. There’s something I’m always drawn to about a band who at one point was a christian band and then gradually loses faith throughout their career. There’s something extra spicey going on with bands like that, a little extra venom in their fangs as they age. The feature with Ghostmane is a fun little song I wasn’t expecting. Underoath might not be putting out songs integral to the progression of the post hardcore genre anymore but they are still keeping it fresh and highly listenable where other aging bands have failed to find relevance anywhere.
Favorite song: “Thorn”
24. Bones – WITHERED
Bones has a ridiculous output even for emo rapper producer types so it’s remarkable that they manage to make some actual solid albums. WITHERED is one of the best chill rap albums of the year that is designed to be experienced with as few braincells as possible. This is sadboi music for hot girls to smoke themselves to sleep to. If I want to relax I know I can rely on this one for a smooth sail out. Its music for emos who deal drugs, like half of my music.
Favorite track: “CabinInTheWoods”
23. Quadeca – I Didn’t Mean To Haunt You
Quadeca has managed to craft a very chill but intriguing kind of atmospheric rap that evokes a similar vibe to “volcanic bird enemy and the voiced concern” by Lil Ugly Mane. The Danny Brown feature on such a melancholic album as this was a surprise to me but they manage to incorporate his voice into the slower pace very well. I liked their previous output but it felt more in line with what i was expecting from an emo rapper type whereas I Didn’t Mean To Haunt you very much feels like he’s establishing a kind of sad-glitch signature.
Favorite track: “tell me a joke”
22. Frayle – Skin & Sorrow
This isn’t the first time Frayle have ended up on my end of year list, I just enjoy this goth mommy style. It reminds me of a lot of early 00s stuff like Jack Off Jill and London After Midnight but only the catchiest moodiest bits. It’s constantly building momentum, sustaining momentum and eventually releasing momentum with a rhythm that feels oddly hypnotic and comforting in it’s repetition. As soon as it comes on my brain just goes smooth and I begin levitating in a black dress. Help I’m afraid of heights.
Favorite song: “Bright Eyes”
21. Worm Shepherd – Ritual Hymns
I’m quite fond of deathcore, especially the darker variations out there. Worm Shepherd are a new symphonic deathcore band having formed in 2020 with obvious comparisons to be made to Shadow Of Intent although the theatrics are kept in check by the blackened death metal aspect of their sound. The symphonics aren’t going to constantly berate your ears and will occasionally give way to some very riff and blast centric moments that make the band feel less like a deathcore band and more like an extreme metal band at times.
Favorite song: “The Raven’s Keep”
20. Brutus – Unison Life
Every year a handful of releases come out that I categorize under a kind of abyss, a void even, voidgaze some would say. A vacuum of infinite black where a particular kind of voice reaches out with equal measure scorn and sadness. Brutus have the feel of a band that formed to play hardcore punk but were just too damn smart to do it. Literally too intelligent to figure out how to make music be that way and instead end up making some kind of artsy post hardcore post punk hybrid. The songs feel like they have a lot of room to breathe and atmosphere but they are also succinct atmospheres that are well under control. Brutus never wanders astray or middles, they are always on route to the next moment. The variety of vocal play is stunning, I love the breathiness of her voice so much and how she cracks her voice for accentuation. Songs like “Victoria” and “Dreamlife” are surprisingly poppy well written rock songs, the hooky writing really stands out.
Favorite song: “What Have We Done”
19. Beach House – once twice melody
A distant dream, so elegant and graceful. Glowing white, glowing pink, a vibrant cloudy plane. Turn your brain off with whatever method you prefer and relax. Or fuck? I’m sure you can figure out where a sound like this belongs in your life, it’s an easy listening experience meant for remembering things that seem happier now than they did then. The simple uneventful matters in life that now inspire a smile. I’m glad I can remember you, the music keeps you near even now… wanna fuck?
Favorite song: “Pink Funeral”
18. Blind Girls – The Weight Of Everything
My local mathcore darlings have released a new one and it is everything I could have hoped from this band since seeing them live in 2019 with the vocalist sprawled out on the floor belting her lungs out. While it’s certainly unhinged math at its core, there is a mature sound to this album that isn’t afraid to be patient with its smashing and gnawing. The pacing and themes lend themselves well towards building up for maximum impact. The opening of “The Shape Of Harm” is so jagged and deadly on a sonic level, it perfectly sets up the pure violence of it all. Looking forward to catching a set of theirs again.
Favorite track: “Dissociating While Driving”
17. Ashenspire – Hostile Architecture
An absolutely punishing display of capital smashing black metal. This antifascist project rages against every kind of machine from the money machine to the patriarchy machine. There’s an underlying tenderness here, a pinkish soft sore being scratched at repeatedly, a sense of suffering most of us have been confronted with in this unjust climate we find ourselves in. The hostility of nature overridden by the hostility of the very constructs we built to oppress ourselves. Late capitalism? It was always too late, never should have started. The proggy avant garde instrumentation across this album pairs well with the mouth full of crooked poetry produced by the vocalist. There’s a fucked up jazzy gait to it, a limping half dead dog rearing it’s head to bite, bite desperately. An aggressive bitter emotion and a theatrical flair can be found beneath the dark fury of metal.
Favorite song: “Beton Brut”
16. The Callous Daoboys – Celebrity Therapist
An actual shit flipper. Real mixed up mathcore that consumed the heart of The Number Twelve with a side of methamphetamine and a pinch of Colors. There’s a lot happening at all times but there are a few particular moments on this album that make it worth listening to just to have something to think about. There’s some real filth and headscratchers in here, I love the pop segments. I’m not even smart enough to talk about this record at length but most of what happens here touches my brain nicely whatever it is. Math, not even once.
Favorite track: Field Sobriety Practice
15. Conjurer – Páthos
An absolutely colossal sound. Gone are the days of thinking of Conjurer as that cute new doom metal band who was kinda core with it, and upon us are the days where Conjurer enacts its plan of dominance. They have upped the pace of post metal here and weaved something equally pretty and toxic. As pretty as it can get, do not expect the imposing frame to shrink. The production keeps everything prickly and the flow of the tide is very likely to turn on you without a moments notice.
Favorite song: “All You Will Remember”
14. Greyhaven – This Bright and Beautiful World
This is the post hardcore guy’s post hardcore band, it’s just different kinds of post hardcore wrapped in a highly presentable decorative bow made out of V necks. I guess the best way I could describe them is if the later melodic parts of Dillinger’s work were more consistently melodic and built to hook. This is the Maroon 5 of post hardcore, and I mean that in a positive way, Maroon 5 are pretty darn good ok. The songs are enjoyable for their drama without going into that overly bright prog sound dominating the genre in recent years. It’s a nice middle ground between poppy singing and metalcore distorting. Each swing feels deliberate and controlled, never swinging too high. The vocalist always sounds comfortable and at ease even when they are going for some difficult executions. They set up a good listening experience and stuck the landing.
It’s Favorite song: “A Painful and Necessary Action”
13. Rolo Tomassi – Where Myth Becomes Memory
The ever-maturing and evolving Rolo Tomassi have graced us with another work of post hardcore genius, a tumultuous dreamscape that will swoop you up into it’s arms just to stab you repeatedly without a second thought or a hint of remorse. They lean harder into their post metal inclinations with each new release resulting in an even denser atmospheric experience than the last. This is perhaps the best balance ratio of clean vocals to screamed vocals as well as the most mature approach to their metalcore roots yet.
Favorite track: “Cloaked”
12. Chat Pile – God’s Country
If this were a less serious article I’d probably tell you that Chat Pile is a noise rock band named after the frontman Chatwick Piles III but that’s not the case, the band members are actually Raygun Busch (vocals), Luther Manhole (guitar) and Cap’n Ron (drums). Don’t let the names fool you, this is an unsettling work highlighting the absurd prolonged suffering brought upon the world by capitalism and christian nationalism and all the other bullshit that persists despite being so damn ugly. The exasperation here is palpable and the aesthetic suitably grimy. While it is quite an American centric album you will find a lot of the message still applies, particularly the songs about homelessness. Some listen to music to escape, but I implore you to fuck your ears up and lament that which blights the land!
Favorite track: “Why”
11. Cult Of Luna – The Long Road North
I’m just a Cult Of Luna fangirl. It’s true. Whatever they put out I enjoy. I discovered them around the time of Somewhere Along The Highway which was my first exposure to post metal as a teen that would shape my entire adult listening. Over the years they have been consistent in output and quality, they just always exist like a rusty although formidable train whirring around the world of post metal without a driver or breaks. My review of The Long Road North is probably my favorite full review I wrote this year too, I said most of it there. Cult Of Luna is tried and true, there’s just something comforting to me from the very start with the sirens. Their post metal sound goes so well with their geographical themes, I’ll have to build the map one day and figure out where they’re going. Favorite song: Cold Burn
10. The Konvent – Call Down The Sun
This is what the soundtrack to Dune should have been. There is no arguing with the void for the void is always right, join the konvent and allow the void to control what you see. Riff upon riff slowly dispensed beneath soul eroding gutturals, no shelter from the sand it consumes all. There is no softness or relief to be found anywhere here, just the constant pelting of concrete rain burning the face. Abrasive doomy heavy fucking metal. Favorite song: Sand Is King
9. 156/Silence – Narrative
I can’t stop coming back to this album. I’ve enjoyed their previous work a lot and enjoy their crushing style of melody but I’m always surprised they manage to keep pushing and pushing a little further each time. This isn’t melodic hardcore, it’s too abrasive to fit in there, it’s atmospheric hardcore that’s all about managing expectations for the most explosive peaks possible. This is the most sophisticated slapping I’ve had in a minute that wasn’t filled with gratuitous genre switches and overt music academia – it’s a simple story that hits the mark with every readied fist. Vocally it’s impressive bouncing between La Dispute poetics and metallic screams done in a rapping fashion, whatever is required in the moment for the most effective story telling. Addictive aggression.
Favorite song: “Live To See A Darker Day”
8. Show Me The Body – Trouble The Water
The opening track “Loose Talk” is an absolute firecracker, if you aren’t sold on this fucking song then just don’t bother. It perfectly sums up the punch and run nature of it all. I move in such specific ways when this album plays, kinda like throwing down but more… swampy? more… crusty. I’m trying to throw down but I also happen to be in mud up to my knees. The duality of hardcore and spoken word rapping vocals are so slickly balanced that you cant distinctly say that these are hardcore vocals infused with rap flow or vise versa, the transitions are seamless and the voice is singular. The tone here is even darker than their last, I want to see this band get more dangerous as they age.
Favorite song: “Loose Talk”
7. Ho99o9 – SKIN
I like to move and this music likes to move me, some real low to the ground movement. It’s hard to even pin down favorite tracks because each new song is just a match being lit with a limited fuse. It’s so versatile jumping around in various forms from rap to nu metal to industrial but at the core is aggressive horrorcore rap, although a more sophisticated version riddled with intellectual aggression and jokes. Some pretty nutty features on here like Corey Taylor as well as veteran collaborators like Saul Williams. It’s entertaining as fuck and maybe even a little poignant.
Favorite track: “…SPEAK OF THE DEVIL” & “THE WORLD, THE FLESH, THE DEVIL”
6. Thotcrime – D1G1T4L_DR1FT
Finally, music for terminally online thirty somethings who refuse to let go of the best music era: the 00s MySpace hardcore era. Throw the fact they are trans on top of that and you have an album made just for me to spin on repeat while I flip between 7 different social apps, 5 of which I already posted my ass to today. Extreme, sensitive, pointed. Prepare for a flurry of sensations and textures, not all of which will be comfortable to you, fuck your comfort. The house is on fire, you aren’t meant to find comfort here. “trust;//fall” has an uncanny ability to transport me back to my teens listening to Candyass by Orgy and browsing music forums about subgenres that turned out to be 100% queer. This isn’t even music, it’s class, take notes – dance.
Favorite song: “Rejection Sensitivity Dysphoria” & “Tweet This!”
5. Kardashev – Liminal Rites
Absolutely gorgeous deathgaze. It takes all of the things I like about post metal and fuses them into progressive death metal using a high level of emotional intelligence. The clean tones of the guitars as well as the higher clean vocals are a delight. There’s a dark sense of romance across the whole thing, this is optimal yearning music. When the daydreamy parts give way to blast beating it will floor you and remind you what the death part of deathgaze is all about.
Favorite track: “Apparitions In Candlelight”
4. Author & Punisher – KRÜLLER
Floaty industrial goth. I can hear all of those goth influences spanning the eras mingling with an exciting sense of electricity rising. The experimental “machine” aspect of how this album is created is worth looking into for DIY noise enthusiast types, it’s highly customized music making gadgetry. It brings a unique flavor to the sound. I’ll be honest, when I first heard “Just let me be a womaaan” it didn’t click with me that it was a Portishead cover and my trans ass was CURIOUS. It’s a very good cover that blends into the rest of the album seamlessly. I’ve not really seen a lot of bands pull off having a cover in the middle of it all. It’s all so well composed with so many tiny moving parts, it’s quite simply a pleasure to listen to. Let the drones carry your worries away.
Favorite track: “Incinerator” & “Glorybox”
3. Denzel Curry – Melt My Eyez See Your Future
Curry is at the top of his game right now and this feels like an historical album for his career. The creativity, the flow and the subject matter is all just so on point. When I use the term conscious rap to describe this, I don’t just mean in the sense that it highlights struggles and social issues but also because it is so self reflective. The very first track opens with so much raw expression and sets the record straight on his own experiences and shortcomings. From there on you’re playing in his world, the way he talks and walks and sounds – your ear follows his character across the tracks from mood to mood dissecting the mundane horror and apathy of the world around us.
Favorite track: “John Wayne”
2. Sonja – Loud Arriver
Everything about this makes me want to scream. The alternative review for this album is just paragraphs of eeeeeeeeeeeeeee. Remember that metal band from our teens, Absu? Well they were kinda of Absuss and kicked out Melissa Moore when she came out as a trans woman- even going as far as changing their name to Apsu or some shit (more like crapsu). Melissa went on to make cool projects like Crossplitter and now her latest band Sonja, a sexually deathually fuelled traditional heavy metal album that is utterly infectious. The amount of times I’ve put this album on and just let it repeat for hours is ridiculous. All other music stops existing. This has become my go-to album when I’m doing makeup with the girls before a party, usually with the music video in the background somewhere. The energy is victorious and playful, it’s the perfect way to start a morning or night, or to simply reclaim the day from bad thoughts.
Favorite track: “Wanting Me Dead” & “Nylon Nights”
1. Soul Glo – Diaspora Problems
On a purely sound level, this is the musical representation of how I converse in real life. Fast talking, subject switching, there’s bong rips and by the end I’m just screaming WHOGONBEATMYASS. This is my number one pick of the year due to the sheer absurdity of it all, I truly do not know if this could ever be topped. There’s so many genres and so many words said so fucking fast and it’s so funny despite how dark the content is. The hardcore focused tracks are every bit as energetic and sardonic as the rap focused tracks and when the two collide? Fucking hell. The first time I heard this I shook my head in disbelief and here I am now half a year later still losing my mind over this record with nothing else quite like it to show for comparison. The genius of starting the album with a bong rip is that I always know when the record is starting from the beginning again. How could this ever pass through your ears without remark? It’s impulsive, it’s bold.
Favorite track: “Coming Correct Is Cheaper” & “Driponomics”