I know what you’re thinking. “It has been a pretty mid year, hasn’t it?” And I can sympathize. But we’re not here to prematurely mourn what has been, on paper, a pretty shit time on planet Earth. If all the sorrow in the world has taught me anything, it’s that we need to cling to our passions with all our might. To share art with one another is one of the greatest celebrations of the short, simple lives we get to hitch a ride for. I feel blessed to help curate such an experience for you, to share my excitement about this thing that we all collectively love. I hope you’re as excited as I am.
When everything seems like a lot (which it often does), we have this music that keeps the juice flowing, that sets our brains on tilt and ignites our senses. No matter the sound or style, every band we cover in this column hits. A few of us rounded up our favorite releases of the year so far and shared our thoughts on some of the most anticipated albums yet to drop in 2022. As always, please keep your hands and feet safely inside the pit at all times or find yourself called out on Twitter for crowdkilling.
Fit For An Autopsy – Oh What The Future Holds
Somehow this album feels both nothing like deathcore and everything like it. Incorporating a prize wheel of other metal styles into their own unique sound to stretch the genre to its furthest ends and back, Fit For An Autopsy have officially beat the deathcore game. Vicious, intelligent, masterfully concocted tracks sing with lives all their own as Will Putney and the gang put on a clinic. This one is still riding high on my AOTY list and likely won’t waver much. I don’t know where Fit goes from here, but they’re leading the pack and leaving everyone further and further behind.
Greyhaven – This Bright and Beautiful World
Bluesy, witchy Southern progressive post-hardcore? Yes please. Louisville’s Greyhaven may rub elbows with Every Time I Die, Protest The Hero, and He Is Legend, but their sound veers into millennial alt rock territory more often than their counterparts. That’s not a bad thing — the whiskey-singed crooning and cruising melodies are a perfect pairing to the chaotic tumbles down the fretboard. This album really grows on you and leaves a lasting impression with each and every spin, and I’m keen to hear more from such a talented young group.
p.s.you’redead – Sugar Rot
Weirdo mathcore is one of my favorite microgenres. Not that self-proclaimed ‘danceviolence’ trio p.s.you’redead care about shit like that, because they’re too busy serving up some of the tastiest, hip-shakingest, freakazoid skronk this side of the Mason-Dixon. If The Number Twelve Looks Like You introduced this outfit as their little niece and it’s her birthday and you better get her a goddamn present, I’m already on the way to the store, you feel me?
Vatican – Ultra
Having given this album a little more time, it’s still one of the most solid front-to-back releases of the year. The standout tracks are a little frontloaded, but that isn’t to say the whole thing doesn’t slap to high heaven. Vatican have tapped into the pulse of the current metalcore wave and configured all its disparate forms into a single cohesive pummeling. I’m interested to see how their style evolves in the future, but Ultra is a landmark for the group and deserves its time in the spotlight.
Wounded Touch – Americanxiety
This one still remains one of my favorite debut full-lengths in recent memory. Penning punishing, clenched fist anthems falling somewhere between early From Autumn To Ashes and END, Wounded Touch harken back to that nostalgic sound while retaining a modern hardcore grit. If you can crymosh and hatemosh to back to back tracks, it’s a clear winner in my book. Let’s also not forget the fantastic feature by none other than the late, great Trevor Strnad on “Excerpts from a Violent Thesis”. If they’ve got his stamp of approval, they should have yours too.
Honorable Mentions: Underoath, Slowbleed, A Dozen Black Roses, Foreign Hands, Static Dress
Crossed – Morir
Perhaps the most underappreciated release on this list, Crossed are a blackened metalcore group from Spain, sharing members with an excellent screamo/post-rock group called Boneflower. Morir is violently abrasive and unforgiving, and far from your typical metalcore album. With influence from powerviolence, mathcore and screamo to boot, the shrieking high vocals, monstrous breakdowns and dissonant chords complete the package of everything I love about intense, raw, -core music. Stop sleeping on this one.
Gospel – The Loser
Honestly, my list here could probably be exactly the same as Jimmy’s and while I’ve tried to differentiate it a bit for content’s sake, I can’t keep my AOTY off this list. One of the greatest one-and-done screamo bands returned after 17 long years and somehow are still just as good. What always made that debut distinct and special was its unique fusion of old-school progressive rock with a hardcore punk/screamo sound. While The Loser has shifted the balance more towards the prog, what remains is still a wildly experimental take at post-hardcore meets the 70’s. Throwback organs and synthesizers for days, with some of the sickest instrumentation you’ll find this year.
Heriot – Profound Morality
There’s something about the fusion of sludge and metalcore that just makes for unparalleled levels of heaviness. Throw in some industrial in that mix? Oh boy. Somewhere between the suffocating, dense atmosphere of LLNN and the relentless, visceral energy of Pupil Slicer, Profound Morality is one of the latest great core exports from a UK scene that continues to push the boundaries of heaviness and style.
Rolo Tomassi – Where Myth Becomes Memory
I don’t know if you can really call Rolo Tomassi a mathcore band anymore with how much their sound has shifted towards one more dominated by textural post-metal layering, an increasing use of Eva’s dreamy singing voice, and wistful piano harmonies. That being said, at least half of this album will still make you lose control of your limbs in the pit and scream into the void, and they bring out some of the heaviest guitar tones that have ever graced a Rolo Tomassi release. But it’s the balance between these two sides of these UK darlings that continue to make their new material incredibly compelling, especially on an emotional level, and worth coming back to.
Vatican – Ultra
While 2019’s Sole Impulse was certainly a fine metalcore/deathcore album, the nominations for most improved metalcore band this year has to include Vatican for their sophomore release Ultra. Beyond all I was unprepared for the range on this album, from frantic mathcore technicality, not-messing-around brutality, to the unexpected alt metal melodies. While it could be argued these style shifts hinder its cohesiveness, they make for an unpredictable and rewardingly engaging listen that doesn’t feel like it overstays its welcome.
Honorable Mentions: To Be Gentle, Fit For An Autopsy, Static Dress, Greyhaven, Helpless, Lasiodora, fromjoy, Worm Shepherd, Soul Glo, Alexisonfire, Yearning
Black Matter Device – AUTONOMOUS WEAPONS
I love so-called “false grind” so much, but Black Matter Device treads that line to the point where in the hodge-podge of microgenres (mathcore, sasscore, progressive post-hardcore!) offered on their latest and greatest project, AUTONOMOUS WEAPONS actually approaches real grind on more than one occasion. This is everything I love about this corner of -core music and undoubtedly fated to be the best mathcore has to offer in 2022.
Gospel – The Loser
I completely missed the wave of hype Gospel generated back in 2005 when they dropped what is now commonly known as one of the greatest screamo records of all time, The Moon Is A Dead World, which developed a bit of a cult following for its incorporation of keyboards and prog rock influence into hardcore punk. A breakup, two reformations, and seventeen years later, the band reconvened for The Loser, which was incredibly hyped up, and I was still late on discovering this magnificent band. I’ve been trying to play catch-up over the last month, and The Loser has shot up towards the top of my list of best records from 2022. Upon pressing play for the first time, it was immediately obvious how special this band is from the onset of pairing unpredictable hardcore and waves of synthesizers. Don’t miss out.
p.s.you’redead – Sugar Rot
This band calls themselves danceviolence. That essentially means sassy powerviolence-influenced hardcore with keyboards and an appreciation for hyperpop. Sugar Rot feels like a fever dream collaboration between the early eras of both Genghis Tron and The Number Twelve Looks Like You. The nostalgia will get you halfway there, but the music carries this thing home.
Soul Glo – Diaspora Problems
Combining hardcore punk and hip-hop isn’t exactly a new feat, but Soul Glo do it so phenomenally well that it’s almost novel. Neither aspect of their sound falters on its own, either; too many rap-rock bands suffer from half-baked hip-hop influences, but Diaspora Problems shines even brighter when Soul Glo strip away the pretense of being a punk band and go full Death Grips on tracks like “Driponomics.” Soul Glo are like this year’s Turnstile in that they’re punk’s critical darlings, and it’s easy to see why.
Static Dress – Rouge Carpet Disaster
For me, Static Dress came out of nowhere this year with this collection of bangers. Rouge Carpet Disaster captures a broad sense of nostalgia for 2000’s post-hardcore, white belt metalcore, and pop punk. I’m hearing Taking Back Sunday, Norma Jean, My Chemical Romance, Deftones, Underoath, and scene revivalists SeeYouSpaceCowboy… among others, and the vibes change from song to song so it’s never boring. It cuts straight to the heart, and I love it so much.
Honorable Mentions: Devil Master, Helpless, Heriot, Fit For An Autopsy, Anxious
The Best Yet To Come
Chat Pile – God’s Country
How’s the meme go? “Friendship with Daughters is over, Chat Pile is my new best friend”? I feel like including this here is cheating because we’ve actually heard this record, and yeah, it’s going to be among the year’s best. This is the best of sludge, post-punk, noise rock, and nu-metal rolled into one, and for me personally, I’m going to be very annoying about this record.
Ithaca – They Fear Us
2019’s The Language of Injury was a stellar debut, but upcoming sophomore release They Fear Us has already landed all eyes on Ithaca. The singles released so far have been phenomenal, showcasing a huge jump in value across the board, from compositions to performances to the production values. Vocalist Djamila Boden Azzouz is hitting her star-powered stride this time around and I’m all in.
The Callous Daoboys – Celebrity Therapist
The Callous Daoboys are probably my favorite young band at the moment, seeming to singlehandedly rejuvenate the mathcore scene and gain a rabid cult following in the process. Maybe that’s just my own perception because I am one of the hungry throng waiting for whatever Carson Pace and co see fit to shove down my waiting orifice. Daoboys forever, baby.