So I finally picked up a copy of Young and In The Way's When Life Comes to Death, and listening to it once more reminded me of why blackened hardcore is currently one of my favorite subgenres. You get all of the hellish atmosphere and grim vocal performances of groups like Taake with the energetic D-beats and nihilistic attitude of metallic punk. What's not to like? With that said, below are 10 of my favorite blackened hardcore releases of the last few years. They're only loosely in order.
Montreal band Hopeless Youth have a wonderfully vile sound. Their new EP, Devil, Walk With Me, hits all the right marks: raunchy hooks, depraved howls, and limitless energy. I'm not sure if the album's title is a play on Twin Peaks, but the reference is fitting given the dark, schizophrenic nature of these tracks. Some of these vicious outbursts stick in my throat, and the only solution is to spit them back with the same fury. "DEVIL...WALK WITH MEEEEE!"
Hexis' more recent album, Tando Ashanti, is also excellent; but Abalam is the album that put them on my radar to begin with. This Copenhagen band brings dark, blackened hardcore along with suffocating sludge. Foreboding, claustrophobic atmosphere? Check. Filthy, wretched vocals? Check. Crushing walls of guitar ever closing in on you? Check. And unlike much of your standard, riff-driven hardcore Hexis is more about building tension and surrounding you in shadow. Their albums are plodding massacres that will murder you inch by inch.
We're traveling around this world with this list, and next up is Rest from Italy. This is fast, aggressive, and rebellious music that's more than a little crusty around the edges. It's got a little bit of that Carpe Diem groove, but otherwise comes across like a naked man charging through a crowded mall with a buzzsaw. Punky riffs, abrasive production, disdainful vocals. A foot to the teeth and hand to the throat for 15 solid minutes.
Next up is some dark and decrepit hardcore from the black metal capital of Oslo, Norway. I really love how hardcore bands from this region have achieved new levels of darkness in their atmosphere. They have in essence started with the benchmark set by Botch and culturally infused that already bleak sound with a black-metal-in-the-cold-woods vibe. The album art certainly adds to this effect. The production is sharp and really delivers the nuances of both the guitars and the drums.
Utilizing ideas from Hamlet and Don Delillo's White Noise, New York's Hellkeeper are a force to be reckoned with. This ravenous group will rip out your entrails. If you locked up Converge in a mental institution for a good decade in solitary confinement, they might discharge sounding a bit like this.
London quintet Calligram lays waste to the city with blackened, metallic punk fury. Demimonde is not only highly aggressive, but strangely melodic in a bleak and morbid kind of way. It is also extremely concise, which allows each track to shine. Calligram understand that the merit of an album like this stands firmly on its hooks. With truly furious vocals, D-beat, and a combination of noise and sinister melody, Calligram lurch forth in a way that makes we confident we will see them again in the future.
You'll have to wait until September to hear the rest of this one, but I was so impressed with Austin, Texas' Expander that I had to include them on this list. Recorded by Kurt Ballou, this is a band that could tour with Taake and Young and In The Way just as easily as Converge or Every Time I Die. Joining intensely grim vocals (and even a few "Ungh!"s) with raucious punk chord structures and buzzsawing basslines, Endless Computer is both highly enjoyable and best enjoyed in the dark of the night.
The album that inspired this list to begin with. North Carolina's Young and In The Way have a name that didn't exactly inspire high expectations when I first heard about them, but damn do these guys tear it up. Expect nothing less than a seriously angry group of dudes spitting pure, derisive bile right in your face. The vocals, from the very first moments that open the record, are unadulterated bitterness and disdain like few other bands can truly pull off. Add to this some highly infectious beats and abrasive riffing, and it is impossible to not react physically.
Noise Trail Immersion is a five-piece band from Turin, Italy inspired by groups like Ulcerate, Artificial Brain, War From a Harlots Mouth, and The Dillinger Escape Plan. The opener to this album is extremely dark and immersive; like being sucked into a black hole. But it's a trap. The transition to "Somnis" is like being suddenly kicked in the nuts while doing yoga. This is perhaps the most mathcore-influenced group with some allusions to Botch and use of djent elements, but I still contend that they fit well with the company on this list.
Bastard Feast (formerly Elitist) have managed to create the Cherry Coke of extreme metal. From the US black metal mecca of Portland, OR; Osculum Inflame is here to put the Mayhem in your Minor Threat. Like Jacob Bannon and company, Bastard Feast bring a fast, chaotic concoction of relentless beats, abrasive vocals, and killer riffs. Need an example? Check out the insane hammer-ons and pull-offs of “Old Father,” or the crunchy bass intro to “The Rats Through Our Veins.” Osculum Inflame is the equivalent of Sarah Connor's dream in T2. It is pulverizing. Add to that a nice dose of cavernous reverb and dissonant melodies and it's party time.