15 best modern hardcore bands for day one fans
Hardcore has a lot to celebrate as of late. Not only is the genre diversifying in meaningful ways both musically and socially, but it’s also beginning to experience an uptick in commercial viability without losing its core ethos. While hardcore will always be the music of the underground, it has managed to lower the barrier of entry for newcomers to enter the subculture, and it comes on the heels of years of hard work, collaboration and pent-up energy after the pandemic. After all, it’s impossible to ignore the success of Turnstile, who have crossed into popular culture while still hanging the flag of hardcore loud and proud. In turn, this has inspired other bands to take note and see that a subculture benefits from strength in numbers.
Many hardcore artists are also stepping out of the typical sonic lanes of the genre in compelling ways. Look at the diversification of concert lineups that are exposing new music fans to a wide variety of sounds, which has been executed brilliantly by groups such as Code Orange touring with hip-hop duo $uicideboy$ or Harm’s Way playing shows with Ghostemane. Knocked Loose frontman Bryan Garris even joined SoundCloud rapper Ski Mask The Slump God onstage in a welcome convergence of subcultures last year.
The state of hardcore has never been more exciting, welcoming in bands with diverse perspectives ranging from prominent women-led acts, youth-minded collectives and those in POC and LGBTQIA+ communities. From Drain to Scowl, these are the 15 best new hardcore bands today.
God’s Hate have a slogan that they like to live by: “Be Harder.” The band certainly live up to that with their music and live performances. Fronted by All Elite Wrestling star Brody King, along with members of Twitching Tongues and Terror, God’s Hate deliver a brutal and testosterone-fueled blend of hardcore that makes their shows feel like a musical warzone. Their set at last year's Sound and Fury Festival proved to be a defining moment for the band, where they adorned ski masks and unleashed a nuclear assault of breakdowns, leading to a sea of stage divers and even moments where fireworks were set off illegally among the crowd. The band also use their platform to represent their hometown in the San Fernando Valley and have a solid straight-edge message that seems to resonate strongly within the community. 818 hardcore represent!
Santa Cruz, California’s Drain could very well be heading in the same career trajectory as Turnstile. For one, Drain play a familiar blend of classic ‘90s hardcore and thrash but add a playful, modern twist that makes their sound accessible to those who aren’t well versed in the genre. Additionally, the band beam with positivity and charisma due in large part to vocalist Sammy Ciaramitaro, who can shriek his head off like a banshee in the vein of Pantera while keeping a smile on his face. Ciaramitaro pens upbeat, sunny anthems that reflect the band’s laid-back California roots, which shows they can be brutal and have some fun, too. Drain have had a relatively fast rise to the top of the hardcore scene, and as of recently, they seem to be hitting milestones at every corner. From headling major festivals such as the Sound and Fury and Outbreak Festivals to signing with the legendary punk label Epitaph Records for their highly anticipated new album, 2023 is shaping up to be the year where Drain experience major crossover success.
Fronted by the Story So Far’s Parker Cannon, along with members of Regulate and Light Years, No Pressure are hardcore’s most exciting pop-punk crossover act in recent years. Their debut self-titled LP dropped last June and quickly won the hearts of the hardcore community. It even scored the band a co-sign from blink-182’s Mark Hoppus, who cited the record as one of his favorite new releases. No Pressure don’t employ aggressive or pummeling breakdowns but instead adopt the spirit of hardcore, paying homage to melody-driven groups such as Lifetime, Kid Dynamite, New Found Glory and, of course, blink-182. For Cannon, No Pressure allows him the opportunity to return to the DIY spaces and intimate venues that he played during the Story So Far’s early days.
Dying Wish are a breath of fresh air when it comes to fusing melodic hardcore and thrash metal. While their sound pays homage to classic mid-2000s metalcore acts (Darkest Hour, Misery Signals), Dying Wish have propelled this classic sound into the future with socially conscious lyrics, technical musicality and modern production. Vocalist Emma Boster has proven to be a dynamic frontwoman in every sense, producing everything from chills-inducing screams to empowering, anthemic clean vocals that add a high level of depth to their music. Dying Wish’s 2021 debut album, Fragments of a Bitter Memory, has elevated the band to become one of hardcore’s most exciting new acts.
If you like ‘90s New York hardcore and Zakk Wylde-esque guitar solos, then Life’s Question are most certainly the band for you. On their 2022 debut album, World Full Of…, Life’s Question have dialed up their guitar solos to 11 and held nothing back lyrically, with tales of self-depreciation and a healthy dose of nihilism. Vocalist Josh Haynes sounds like a more pissed-off version of Trapped Under Ice’s Justice Tripp, which is juxtaposed brilliantly by co-vocalist and guitarist Abby Rhine, who provides clean vocals that border on hyperpop. Standout tracks include “Mellow My Mind” and “For You.”
One Step Closer
For a band whose members are all barely in their early 20s, One Step Closer have shown a great deal of maturity throughout their relatively short career. On their debut album, This Place You Know, One Step Closer offer an introspective and nostalgia-laced blend of hardcore that reflect coming-of-age moments and homesickness. Their music contains a stunning degree of melody and atmospherics, which has allowed the group to cross over into other communities. In turn, they’ve shared the stage with major pop-punk acts such as Movements and Knuckle Puck. The straight-edge group also recently dropped a surprise EP, Songs for the Willow, that shows why they're leaders of the new generation of hardcore.
On their 2022 debut album, Little Green House, Anxious knocked it out of the water with songs filled with youthful energy, melody, aggression and a staggering sense of pop sensibility. The Connecticut-based hardcore group made a record that could allow them to headline the top hardcore festivals while seamlessly fitting in the pop-punk, emo and indie-rock space as well. The duel vocals between frontman Grady Allen and guitarist Dante Melucci are the perfect combination and hark back to classic dynamics fans know and love (think Taking Back Sunday and Transit). Little Green House is a snapshot of a band coming of age and trying new things, including the incorporation of doo-wop in the hardcore space.
Mindforce sound as energized as ever with their sophomore album, New Lords. Produced by the hardcore scene’s version of Rick Rubin, Taylor Young, Mindforce have mastered their sound, which feels like a hybrid between classic Snapcase vocals and ‘80s thrash in the vein of Slayer or Metallica. Vocalist Jay Petagine is an inimitable frontman who possesses a captivating sense of positivity through his lyrics and a playful stage presence. He’s also unapologetically New York, living and breathing the spirit of hardcore to the max.
Long Island hardcore emo-revivalists Koyo are the perfect throwback to the classic VFW hall days of the early 2000s Long Island scene. The band sound like the sonic union of the Movielife and Silent Majority, but with their own modern twist. Koyo’s exceptional 2021 EP, Drives Out East, became an unexpected hit within the genre and scored them major support slots with prominent acts such as Knocked Loose and Silverstein, as well as a record deal with Pure Noise. Koyo’s highly anticipated debut LP is set to drop this year and will surely cement them as one of the next great exports of the Long Island scene.
Hailing from Sydney, Australia, Speed are pure fun when it comes to hardcore. Their music, while brutal and fast-paced, comes with an uplifting dose of motivational lyrics and razor-sharp vocals that contain elements of hip-hop, which makes their sound instantly recognizable. Their 2022 EP, Gang Called Speed, has been a breakthrough release for the band and shows incredible promise for when they release a proper album. Standout tracks include “Big Bite” and “Not That Nice.”
When you think of cities that have always had legendary hardcore scenes, the first ones that typically come to mind are Boston, New York and Los Angeles, not Boise, Idaho. However, Ingrown are about to put the state of Idaho on the map once and for all. Ingrown bring the term power trio to the next level with visceral compositions that fuse everything from classic beatdown hardcore to powerviolence and death metal. Their exceptional debut album, Gun, is sonically unrelenting, and their recent live shows have been nothing short of terrifying — in the best way, of course.
San Jose, California’s Sunami have made a name for themselves with brutally honest lyrics, aggressive tendencies and street-ready anthems. With just a few singles and an EP under their belt, Sunami have already become one of the most sought-after groups in hardcore, scoring the top slots at hardcore festivals across the country and releasing some of the coolest merch in the scene today. We’re eagerly awaiting to see what Sunami bring forth with their inevitable debut LP.
It has become impossible to ignore the meteoric rise of Santa, Cruz California’s Scowl. It has been a whirlwind year since the release of the band’s debut album, How Flowers Grow, which has led the group to share the stage with everyone from Stick To Your Guns and the Bronx to Limp Bizkit. Scowl can seamlessly transition from sunny punk anthems into venemous, double-time and circle pit-ready blasts of classic hardcore. Frontwoman Kat Moss is a versatile and unique voice for hardcore with a commanding stage presence that is sure to win over even the most fickle gatekeepers of the scene.
If you were to place a bet on who will be one of 2023’s next big hardcore acts, Militarie Gun would certainly be in the running. Their music feels like an amalgamation of everything from IDLES, Fugazi, Ceremony and Pixies, all through their own unique lens. Fronted by multi-instrumentalist and hardcore video director du jour Ian Shelton, Militarie Gun have some of the wittiest and most abstract lyrics the genre has witnessed this decade, with experimental guitar parts courtesy of Drug Church guitarist Nick Cogan. Look no further than their 2022 EP, All Roads Lead to the Gun.
Zulu are hands down one of the most important new bands in hardcore. With lyrics that chronicle injustice, disenfranchisement, racism and police brutality, their music holds an incredible sense of weight. Sonically, the band are a mixture of beat-down hardcore mixed with powerviolence, showcased boldly on their breakthrough EPs Our Day Will Come and My People…Hold On. Zulu’s debut album, A New Tomorrow, is due out in March, and they have already teased that it will be their most ambitious work yet.