The 10 Best Hardcore Albums Of 2023

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The 10 Best Hardcore Albums Of 2023


From a certain perspective, the hardcore band of 2023 was one that hasn’t released any music since 2017. Baltimore bruiser brigade Trapped Under Ice have long loomed enormous over the underground landscape. Turnstile, now the most popular hardcore band that has ever existed, essentially started off as a TUI side project. TUI’s blend of elements — knucklehead swagger, metallic crunch, irrepressible singalong parts, hidden vulnerability — remain hugely influential; their style is all over present-day heavyweights like Pain Of Truth, Speed, and Never Ending Game. When TUI returned at the beginning of 2023, it was an event.

Thus far, the return of Trapped Under Ice has been limited to five live shows. (There will be a sixth next year, when they headline Florida’s FYA Fest.) Most of those shows were spotlight sets at big-deal hardcore fests, and all of them look absolutely insane on video. In July, TUI closed out LA’s massive Sound And Fury fest, and Turnstile frontman Brendan Yates resumed his old post as that band’s drummer. I wasn’t there, but it was life-affirming just to watch that set on YouTube.

The hardcore nostalgia circuit is a real thing, and classic bands like Gorilla Biscuits will always get to play to the kids who never got to see them the first time around. It’s fun, and it’s healthy, but it’s not earthshaking. The Trapped Under Ice revival feels like something else. It feels vital and present — partly because the band’s music still fuels so much of the ongoing hardcore boom and partly because the band’s members are still so active. TUI didn’t release any music this year, but Angel Du$t, Justice Tripp’s other band, came out with Brand New Soul, their sixth LP. It’s not on this list, but it’s awesome.

Since I’m not writing a regular hardcore column this month, let me just say that I saw Angel Du$t play a DIY venue in Richmond last week, and they were a blast. Justice Tripp performed in a cast because he broke his foot earlier in the tour. After the injury, he didn’t cancel any shows. I talked to him after the set, and he said that doctors told him he’d need reconstructive surgery when he got home, but he thinks they were just trying to scare him. Cast and all, he was still jumping off the stage in Richmond. Some people are different.

With Angel Du$t, Justice Tripp makes a lot of music that doesn’t fit most traditional definitions of hardcore. He messes around with acoustic guitars, congas, saxophones, layered harmonies, proggy guitar interplay. I’ve gone back and forth on whether it makes sense to refer to a band like Angel Du$t as “hardcore,” but Tripp cleared that up in a tweet earlier this year: “Everything I have and everything I am is from hardcore music. If you see me playing love songs on an acoustic guitar you just saw hardcore. You don’t get to decide.”

He’s right. I don’t get to decide. Neither do you. Hardcore is a genre of music, and it’s an ethos. More than that, though, it’s a community. Sometimes, that community tightly monitors its borders. But someone like Justice Tripp — someone whose HC credentials are absolutely bulletproof — can go musically bucknuts without worrying whether the results fit anyone’s definition of hardcore.

In 2023, we saw hardcore continuing to thrive, intersecting with different parts of the music world without losing its identity, its status as a community. There’s no next Turnstile, and there never will be, but tons of other bands from that world are doing big, exciting things. Some of them are even challenging conventional notions of what hardcore is.

In putting together this list, I relied on a simple test. If a band used the “hardcore” tag to describe their record on Bandcamp, then that record had a shot at appearing on list. That means that some of the records on this list, including the LP sitting at #1, might fit better into the fabled “hardcore-adjacent” space. It also means that the great 2023 synth-punk records from MSPAINT and Home Front, two bands that I’ve covered in my monthly hardcore column, are not on this list. Those bands don’t call themselves hardcore, and I don’t get to decide.

As always, this list is limited to full-lengths, and hardcore is not necessarily a genre that thrives in album format. It’s live music, and it’s music that often shines brighter on EPs. This year, we got great EPs from Scowl, Dead Heat, One Step Closer, Anklebiter, Scarab, Slant, Wreckage, New World Man, Entry, Private Hell, Staticlone, Power Alone, Ends Of Sanity, and a whole mess of others. You should hear all of them, but they’re not on the list.

The list is also limited to 10 albums, which means plenty of worthy stuff didn’t make the cut. My list is entirely personal, and yours would almost certainly look completely different. But if you like the albums on this list, I’d strongly encourage you to check out recent records from Never Ending Game, Sunami, Magnitude, Diztort, Destiny Bond, Spiritual Cramp, Jesus Piece, Gumm, Brain Tourniquet, Buggin, Enforced, MOVE, Envision, Skourge, and Pest Control, among many others. Hardcore is in a beautiful place right now. Jump in.

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