While 2021 spawned Turnstile's monumental Glow On — arguably one of the biggest hardcore albums of all time — and plenty of other awesome records, 2022 has already felt like a more consistently great year for hardcore overall. Bands who've been around for a minute like Terror and Drug Church have put out some of their best material, and a whole crop of young up-and-comers like Anklebiter and Gridiron have unleashed phenomenal debuts that point to bright futures ahead.
It's only halfway through the year and it was already challenging to pare down the pile into the best of the best, but below are the 10 greatest hardcore albums (EPs included) of 2022 so far.
It's been a minute since a band has done down-the-middle, no-frills Northeast hardcore as well as Anklebiter. The bourgeoning group's demo evokes the dusted-over sound of early 2000s Boston, recalling bands like Mental, Righteous Jams and basically anyone else on Revelation Records' 2005 Generations comp, but with production and colorful energy that feel modern. The first three songs are rippin' straight-edge hardcore, but "My Creator" drops in subtle tambourine shakes and a sugary lick that're distinct to the generation of Angel Du$t and Turnstile.
Combust succeed on Another Life by working within the limitations of a very specific era of hardcore, and mastering that sound in a way few modern bands ever have. Their long-awaited debut confidently makes itself at home in the furnishings of late-Eighties New York, channeling Killing Time, Born to Expire-era Leeway and Best Wishes-era Cro-Mags in a way that celebrates that timeless style without succumbing to boring homage. Pristine production, riffs for days, plenty of bounce and attitude out the wazoo.
What began as a distinctly unpretentious outlet for Self Defense Family wordsmith Patrick Kindlon to croak over Quicksand-style riffage has grown into one of the most intellectually prodding and melodically pleasurable hardcore bands in the game. Yes, Hygiene is technically their most polished and bright LP yet, but every awkward earworm is still just a vehicle for Kindlon's social fables about petty schoolyard beefs and greasy internet white knights. It'll make you wanna stage dive, and it also might change the way you think.
Rap and hardcore aren't easy styles to mesh, but Gridiron make that shit sound effortless on No Good at Goodbyes. The Pennsylvania/Detroit crew boasts members of Year of the Knife and Never Ending Game, and there're enough stomping mosh parts to keep the camo-clad pit warriors occupied. However, the best parts are the ad-libbed smack-talk, stray boom-bap beats, and quotable one-liners like: "You on the bench/We in the trench." Gridiron own the E. Town Concrete comparisons— and it works.
Death metal has a hefty footprint on hardcore these days, and Killing Pace harness the subgenre's bone-crushing intensity while writing songs that are still punk at their obsidian cores. The Richmond band's self-titled debut brings to mind a group like Nails in the way it blurs the lines between grind, hardcore and extreme metal, but highlights like "Dosed to Death" and "Sacrificial Gain" are more groovy than blasty. It's essentially the heaviest hardcore can be before it tips into full-on metal. Bang your fucking head.
Moreru's latest explosion of brain-scraping screamo, mathcore and noisy hardcore is easily the most abrasive and batshit offering on this list. That said, the Tokyo band launder a shocking amount of melody and sticky songwriting tricks into the nine-song 山田花子, and with popular American bands like Candy and Full of Hell continuing to experiment with noisier textures, not to mention the runaway success of the Armed's ultra-fied take on hardcore pop, Moreru's sound ain't that far outside the zeitgeist. Play it loud and it'll make sense.
Consume / Deny / Repent is a tremendously aggressive grindcore album trained on the hardcore ear. The D.C. band's sophomore LP is fast and gnarly as hell, like a pack of pirranhas tearing apart the human remains in a sunken cop car, but it's packed with finger-lickin' thrash riffs, sprinting two-step grooves and a sprinkle of anthemic vocal utterances that offer something to latch onto. Whether you come from the era of Gulch or Napalm Death, this front-to-back stunner is a must-listen.
Diaspora Problems contains multitudes. Musically, it's a brilliantly synergistic handshake between punk, noise-rap and every sub-style of hardcore — from emotional screamo to metallic mosh. Lyrically, singer Pierce Jordan's spitfire outpourings are as politically profound and socially urgent as they are self-examining and gut-twistingly vulnerable. It's the most breath-snatchingly thrilling and brain-nourishingly on-point hardcore album not just of 2022, but also in recent memory. Yes, it really is that good.
The 20-year mark is usually when hardcore bands start to check out and coast on the legacy of their early shit, but Terror are built different. Pain Into Power is a reunion with original guitarist-songwriter Todd Jones (the force behind Nails) that sees Scott Vogel and Co. sounding heavier and angrier than ever, rivaling the material they built their name with and trouncing the energy of most bands half their age. Songs like "Can't Let Go" and "On the Verge of Violence" might literally be the most muscle-bound rippers they've ever laid to track. It's an obvious career high point.
The title of Vein.fm's sophomore LP isn't a threat but a guarantee of the bleakness and pain to come, and their music sounds like a manifestation of a cursed life on this tortured plane. Convulsive, throbbing and emotionally wounded, the heaviest songs on This World Is Going to Ruin You are just about as intense as metalcore can get, while the brief reprieves of melody and mood offer little to heal the bludgeoning dealt by the tracks before. Few band batter the soul quite like Vein.fm.