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Alexisonfire, Comeback Kid, Fucked Up—click through to read our picks for 10 key Canadian hardcore albums from the 2000s.
Winnipeg melodic hardcore favourites Comeback Kid made their big break with second album Wake The Dead. Jam-packed with gang vocals and fast, catchy riffs, Wake The Dead is one of the most substantial hardcore albums for fans of the Canadian scene. From the two-step breakdown at the end of "Talk Is Cheap" to one of the band’s best-known songs, "Wake The Dead," this album keeps the energy high all the way through. It still stands as one of the key albums in Canada’s melodic hardcore history.
The ever-gritty sounds of defunct band Cursed will live on in Canada's hardcore history forever. Their sonically destructive sound and hectic live sets earned them a reputation as one of Canada's top cult hardcore bands. Their first full-length, released on Jacob Bannon's (Converge) record label Deathwish Inc, had enough feedback and blastbeats to make your ears bleed. Songs like "Bloody Mary" and "Guilt Parade," take you to straight to their destructive realm.
Fucked Up’s intensely interactive live sets established them deep in Toronto’s scene years before their 2009 Polaris Music Prize win brought them to the mainstream. Although they continue to progress with each album, their debut full-length Hidden World shows the beginning of what was to become Canada's most notorious punk band. Hidden World also features guest spots from other prominent Candian torchbearers such as Alexisonfire/Dead Tired’s George Pettit, Cursed/Burning Love’s Chris Colohan, and more.
Watch Out!, as the follow-up to Alexisonfire’s self-titled breakout album, came at a pivotal time for the band and was the first in a series of platinum juggernauts. It established the St. Catharines, ON, crew as monsters of Canadian hardcore, spawned fan-favourite "Accidents” and live staple "Happiness By The Kilowatt," and easily earned its place as one of Canadian punk's most important albums.
Cancer Bats’ second full-length album Hail Destroyer was a perfect mix of whiplash-inducing punk and raw, gritty metal. From the opening chords of title track Hail Destroyer, Cancer Bats set off a frenzy of sharp riffs and gang vocals that make it impossible not to rage to. With guest appearances from Rise Against frontman Tim McIlrath, Alexisonfire guitarist/vocalist Wade MacNeil, and Billy Talent singer Ben Kowalewicz, Hail Destroyer featured some of Cancer Bats' best material to date ("Deathsmarch," "Pray For Darkness," and the all-too-sludgy touring anthem "Lucifer's Rocking Chair,") and was a defining part of Canada's hardcore scene today.
Fuck the Facts
Ottawa grindcore legends Fuck The Facts were known for their jokey take on the genre with releases such as Mullet Fever (with songs like "Don't Call My Slammin' Outfit Cool, Whitebread!" and "I Baby-sit for Drug Money”), and it wasn't until 2006’s Stigmata High Five that would give us the quality grindcore we know and love them for today. Stigmata High Five reflected the recording quality the band deserved, and tracks such as "The Wrecking" and "Taken From The Nest" show the band's now-signature quality of being able to switch between bastardized grindcore and soft melodies seamlessly.
Protest the Hero
Protest The Hero’s debut, Kezia, still stands as arguably their best album. These progressive metalcore giants showed off their skilled musicianship that few bands were doing at the time, especially in Canada. From the mind-bending technicality of "Heretics And Killers" to the upbeat and melodic riffs in "Divinity Within," Kezia marked the beginning of Protest The Hero's journey into becoming one of progressive metal's most well-known acts and featured a more prominent sense of punk characteristics than future releases.
Toronto skate punk outfit Career Suicide have been leading the pack of underground hardcore since their inception in 2001. With their blistering songs reminiscent of Black Flag or the Dead Kennedys, Career Suicide had the sense of fear and anxiety prominent in hardcore’s early days. From the opening drum kicks and guitar riff of "Punitive Damages," Career Suicide rip into a hectic frenzy of an album that is still known for being the beginning of one of Canada's best underground hardcore bands.
Burlington post-hardcore crew Silverstein have still been steadily releasing new music since their formation in 2000, but their major breakthrough came with 2005 full length Discovering The Waterfront. Opening track "Your Sword versus My Dagger" kicks off the album with a soaring guitar riff that leads into an upbeat punk rock indication of the more digestible sounds of this album. While on the lighter end of the hardcore spectrum, this album had its fair share of hard-hitting moments such as on "Fist Wrapped In Blood," or closing track "Rodeo Clown."
Dead and Divine
Dead And Divine's 2009 release The Machines We Are featured prominently the aggression and attitude that Canada's hardcore scene had become known for by the time of its release. With loads of punchy breakdowns and triumphant clean sections, The Machines We Are showed Dead And Divine at their strongest. Frontman Matt Tobin's screams were a perfect match for the heavy discordant instrumentation on the album. Tracks like "Chemical Valley" and "Creature" were prime examples of the mosh inducing sounds that Dead And Divine were capable of before their demise in 2012. The Machines We Are was a perfect snapshot of Canada's metalcore scene in the late 2000's—catchy, heavy, clean, and versatile.
Canada has had more than its fair share of great punk and hardcore bands through the decades. Although hardcore’s origins are primarily associated with Southern California, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C., Canada was present right from the get go. From political crew D.O.A. to the much more vividly named Dayglo Abortions, Canada was a part of shaping what hardcore has become today.
Although the term hardcore, which, like any genre, is used loosely today, Canadian artists are still just as prominent as their American counterparts within many subcategories. Anyone who was raised on Canadian punk and hardcore in the 2000s will remember these albums fondly.