Last year this was a whole production, where I had a bunch of friends chime in with their top releases of 2014. It was pretty cool to see everyone’s lists and there were definitely a few that I hadn’t heard yet that those lists got me into. This year, things are a bit busy, so all you get are mine. But what a year for demos! There were some killer demos this year… Here we go; my favorite releases of 2015.
10. Vengeance, Fools Follow Rules – If you don’t know the deal, these are basically old Floorpunch songs that finally got recorded, but with Jay Pepito from Reign Supreme on vocals. Musically this is awesome. Has all the right things in the HC recipe, but includes some interesting different tempo’d breakdowns that spice it up a bit. On some of the songs, the vocals are a bit more on the metal-core tip than I’d like, but some of the other songs are just the perfect amount of scream vs. yell/growl. But that’s a nitpicky complaint. This LP is dope. Check it out.
9. Terror, the 25th Hour – this LP came out during a very crowded month, which also saw some other releases on this list. “Keepers of the Faith” was my favorite Terror record, but I wasn’t really feeling “Live by the Code” as much. It was good… just not as epic. 25th Hour is another step in the right direction, in my opinion. Again, still not quite up to KOTF levels of brilliance, but still really good. Scott’s voice sounds really cool on this record. Not sure what it is.. it just sounds a bit different, but in a good way. Maybe more crisp. To me, that’s what makes this record really stand out the most. Makes it sound really pissed.
8. Violent Reaction, Marching On – this style of boot-inspired HC is really making a comeback, it seems (particularly in the UK). I can dig that. But a lot of times these bands kinda start to sound the same. Violent Reaction’s previous recordings were cool enough, but didn’t really stand out from the others to me. This LP changes everything. Maybe it’s the better recording, maybe the songs are just a bit more interesting… whatever it is, this rips.
7. Forced Order, Vanished Crusade – This LP is CRUSHING. It’s really good. Weirdly, I’ve talked to a couple of Forced Order fans who weren’t really feeling this at first. I told them to give it another listen and both came back later and agreed that they were dead wrong. This record rips. It’s more of the exact same formula. Short raging songs, heavy as hell and brutal Clevo worship HC.
6. Rocky Votolato & Chuck Ragan, Kindred Spirits (split EP) – three songs each from my two favorite solo artists. LOVE IT. Only complaint is after seeing the Rocky & Chuck Cardinal Sessions videos, I really wish these two did a few songs together on this. I think I listen to the Chuck songs more than the Rocky ones, but this is a solid split from start to finish.
5. World Be Free, demo – around this time last year, Vogul texted me talking about how he was excited for me to hear his new GB/Dag Nasty-style band. At the time, I imagined it was probably him and a bunch of younger L.A. area dudes. Fast forward to a few months back, I went to see Terror and Scott pulled me into a room and forced some earbuds on me, so I could hear the new tunes they demoed. It was definitely not what I was expecting, but it was awesome. I asked him who else was playing in the band and he gave me the run down. For months, I pestered him, asking him to mail me the MP3s, but being the technologically challenged pit-creature he is, I never got em. In fact… I still don’t have this demo. I don’t have a working tape deck and still no MP3s… I’ve listened to the two songs streaming online a bunch and I love it. Can’t wait to actually own some tunes. Hope they make it up to Seattle sometime.
4. Free, demo – another bunch of dudes getting back together to make fantastic music again. Four (I believe) dudes from Have Heart playing a similar, but a bit harder edged brand of hardcore to their previous efforts. There are parts on this demo where you can hear some of those Have Heart slow build ups… but the music on this sounds more raw, with lots of feedback, less prevalent leads and a less clean recording. But it really works. This demo just came out in December, so I need to give it a few more listens to really get a feel for it. But it’s awesome.
3. True Identity, demo – this demo was very anticipated for me. Two of my best friends making new music together and doing it with three other guys I really like. Even if this was horrible, I was going to love it. But obviously with this group of dudes, there was no way this was going to be anything but solid gold. This demo is anthem music, packed with enough good straightedge and hardcore slogans to fill up an entire department store of hardcore shirt designs. “Dedicated to the Dedicated.” The simplicity of the truths in these lyrics are brilliant. Can’t wait to hear more.
2. Foundation, Turncoat – To be completely honest, I’ve always been a casual Foundation fan. Good band, nice dudes, awesome live… but never listened to them that much. I probably listened to the last LP once on Bandcamp. But they were always a band that when I’d see them live, I would wish that I was more familiar with their music, because they were always so impressive live. Well, I finally took the plunge and bought this EP when they posted it… and I absolutely love it. Like everyone else in the world, “Devotion III” is the standout track for me. The half-sung “every rope has it’s…. end!” (pit) gets me every time. Every track on this is a banger though. Great final EP from a band that I wish I could see play a few more times. RIP.
1. G.L.O.S.S., demo – Around the start of this year I started hearing some rumblings about a band from Olympia called G.L.O.S.S, which had members of Vexx. I missed a show that both bands played at Black Lodge, but enough people whose opinions I respected were talking about this band, so when the demo dropped I was eager to check it out. It was definitely not what I expected, it was way better. Five tracks of such unbridled rage.. the kind of rage that most hardcore bands can only aspire to capture in their sound. This band is pissed and the fury absolutely drips off every syllable screamed on this demo. On first listen, it instantly reminded me of “Roll with Punches” era Carry on, or American Nightmare’s first 7”. The sound isn’t necessarily the same, but that feeling.. it was the same. I instantly knew there was something special about this band. Musically, it actually reminds me a lot of No Reply (the singer of Suicide File’s earlier band).
Honorable mention: last year I put the Putrid Brew LP on my list (at #1 actually!) because I wasn’t sure it would ever actually see an official release. Now it’s out and it would definitely make it in this top 10 if I didn’t use it last year. I still listen to it a lot. It’s fantastic. Check it out if you haven’t already. For fans of Buried Alive and Ringworm.