What even is hardcore? In the days since Black Flag first started, punk’s most notorious sub-genre has obfuscated at times beyond recognition, from metallic sub-sects to crab-walking ginocore. But at its… core, the genre is still defined by the same principles: an indescribable edge that pushes their sound that half-step too far, and an attitude to match. In Canada, hardcore extends along all sides of the octahedron, and here, we’ll highlight our emerging favourites.
We’ve covered Single Mothers on more than one occasion, and with good reason—they’re fucking fantastic. Volatile, wordy and soaked in… something, their sound mixes Andrew Thompson’s half-spoken bark with Cursed’s sludgy undergut for a caustic sound that demands second, third and fourth listens. And with little recorded material released to this point, you’ll have to learn to love their self-titled EP. Sure, they’re signed to Dine Alone in Canada, but we’re still waiting on their elusive first full-length.
Simply put, Erosion aren’t pleasant. Kill Us All rumbles its crusty low-end with a metallic edge and sewer-drenched vocals that sound simply inhuman at parts. Edging on the heaviest side of hardcore, this Vancouver based band has members past in present from bands like 3 Inches of Blood and Baptists, but their sound leans undeniably closer to the latter—think Southern Lord meets Deathwish with some added meat to the d-beat backbone.
Inspired in part by Japanese and Swedish noisemakers, Punk Survival is essentially sixteen minutes of Absolut’s vocalist’s incomprehensible howls carried at breakneck speed by straight-line drum work, a wash of guitars and the occasional fancy pants solo. It’s a beautiful mess in the crustiest of ways, though maybe not for the hardcore fan who likes to know what a band is shouting about.
Even though it sounds like it was recorded on a Yak Bak, Silent Order’s 2014 demo tape showed incredible promise with its primitive, barebones sound that aside from some of the guitar work sounds as much like 1988 as it does 2014. These Ottawa punx are raw, quick-footed and down-your-throat aggressive.
With only a 7-inch under their belt, this oddly named Vancouver outfit have the experience to sound tight beyond their years. Members of Iskra and No Eulogy come together for an anarcho-punk that’s as melodic as it is biting. It’s traditional without being too derivative. Their sound isn’t revolutionizing, but it gets from points A-to-B with the kind of crass virility you hope for from the genre.
These Newfie punks relocated to Toronto a few years back and have since taken their melodic hardcore sound to new heights, kickstarting singalong to bigger and better stages. With opening gigs with American Nightmare, the Queers and more, the time is now for them to capture a new audience in full. Last year’s Stay Useless certainly shows that they’re ready.
These Quebecers hit with such urgency that you’ll be playing Six Degrees of Man Is the Bastard by your first listen, but with an assured low-end rumble and distinct bark, Jugular Scars are a force all their own. Now how do you say powerviolence in French?
With a modern, angular edge, Good People play like the bridge between Minor Threat and Fugazi’s sounds, and while they’ve got a ways to go to get anywhere near those accolades, their super-solid twotrack debut is one hell of a kickstarter.
Into the Fray
Do you like Kid Dynamite? Into the Fray certainly do, and they’re quick to fill the void Rise Against left in the melodic hardcore scene when Tim McIlrath decided to trade in “Black Masks & Gasoline” for a relaxing wooden porch swing. Sure, that’s a ten year gap, but let’s face it: the genre rarely changes, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
P.E.I. punks Acousma have managed to bring in skramz legend Will Killingsworth to work on their mixes, and while their snarl distances their sound from the likes of Ampere or Orchid, that they’ve enlisted such an important name from hardcore’s expansive scene speaks to their early potential. With only ten songs to their name, Acousma are already captivating audiences far bigger than their Charlottetown roots. Check out our chat with them here.
Toronto D.I.Y. mainstays S.H.I.T. play punk rock with crusted snot in their noses, trashing basements and jam spaces along the way while spearheading Toronto’s underground scene. As much responsible for killing it in the hardcore scene as keeping it going, their latest 7″ Collective Unconsciousness proves the scene is alive and thriving in the big smoke.
Montreal’s self-proclaimed “lords of slam skank,” Omegas play hardcore stripped right out of the 80s, with the right balance of aggressive, hooks and build-ups. New York hardcore out of French Canada? Sure, why not!
These Alberta punks have been compared to the Adolescents, and with good reason: They’re as focused on the hard-hitting hardcore aggression the genre’s known for as framing it around a song you’ll actually remember. Fans of Fucked Up will feel instantly familiar with Graeme MacKinnon’s vocals, but don’t expect any studio trickery or higher concepts here.
Risen from the ashes of Unlearn, Vancouver’s Systematik were quick to join Deranged Records’ imitable line-up, and with good cause—they’re fucking fantastic. Carried by an impeccable guitar tone, throat shredding vocals and the tutelage of Stan Wright, their first full length hits as hardcore’s supposed to: Hard, fast and often.
Sperm aren’t the easiest Google out there, but this Calgary band is worth the effort. Apparently started at first as a band that sounded like Nirvana, they quickly reigned in their gimmick and kept the filth to album art, filling up their demo and cassette with a refreshing, mid-paced punk sound that’s more march than mosh. And yeah, My Body is Diamonds‘ front cover features a one armed naked nazi pig woman giving it to a chained Minnie Mouse facsimile, but for fuck’s sake the band is called Sperm so what were you expecting?
Keep it Clear
Keep it Clear were largely responsible for reigniting Vancouver’s now prospering straight-edge scene before scampering off on hiatus a few years back. Now, 8 years on from their debut on the scene, they’re poised to give themselves a proper full length release. Whether or not you live and breathe edge, these guys preach the kind of unity and positivity that defines hardcore’s best bands.