It’s so encouraging DIY music, physical records, printed zines and stuff like that is still relevant in 2018. Even as we become more likely to stream loads of stuff via Spotify and other digital platforms, we highly recommend experiencing music as intended, as a set of tracks, sequenced with a particular logic, offering a proper dive into one’s creative endeavor. After a successful End Of 2017 wrap-ups series by variosu artists, bands and record labels, we’re back for a new edition of unique, personal best-ofs, collections, and recommendations shared first hand by some of our friends and personas who we look up to or are inspired by. What better way to kick off the 2018 series than with a contribution from one and only Greg Bennick of TRIAL, BETWEEN EARTH & SKY, BYSTANDER, and One Hundred For Haiti! Greg sat down with us to share his 2018 wrap-up and tell us about his favorite and most memorable releases this year.
2018 has been a great year for music in the hardcore world. On a personal level, I was excited that 2018 saw my return to recording hardcore jams with the release of the Bystander 7″ on Safe Inside Records. But aside from my own band, it more importantly it saw the release of a ton of great music ranging from inspiring and intelligent to passionate or some combination of all three. In the coming year I am looking forward to: the next episodes of Game of Thrones, the second half of season nine of The Walking Dead, a Between Earth & Sky LP, a second Bystander record, and finally writing a book or two, hopefully one of them about the ideas on the Trial LP “Are These Our Lives?” in honor of the 20th anniversary of its release. For now, I am stoked about the following favorite releases of 2018 in no particular order…
Forewarned – “Unforgiving Years”
The band of experienced players had me interested. The demo has me hooked. Raging hardcore with very intelligent lyrics. Like the kind of intelligent where you will learn a new word or two in each song. Never a bad thing. I expect further greatness from this band in 2019.
Great Reversals – “Stalactite”
It’s not just that the singer wears a Between Earth & Sky shirt for layout photos, but it is rather that this band captures a nineties feel – heavy and driving – like few others manage to that captures my interest. Ideas, passion, impact, and all without falling into clichés or pretension. Great band, great members, and a great record. I liek it.
GO HERE for a full track by track commentary.
Wake of Humanity – “Fight / Resist”
The most improved band of the year. This LP is really powerful, intensely political, socially conscious, and musically/lyrically focused. And on a label which is working hard and its totally paying off: Ugly and Proud Records from Bulgaria.
Faim – self-titled 7”
If you can listen to their song “All Talk” and not get pumped out of your mind, you have no soul. Aggressive, in your face, socio-political hardcore.
By the Grace of God – “Above Fear”
State Of Minds Recordings / Simba Records
By the Grace of God wins points with me for being a band who do their own original thing and do it really well. These are their first new songs in forever and are worth the decades of wait it took to get here. When Trial toured with them in Europe, we all saw a man openly pleasuring himself in midday while sitting and leaning next to a church in Germany. That has nothing to do with this record but it does bear mentioning.
Tempest – sef-titled 7”
Easily one of my favorite new bands of 2018. Tempest have members from all over the planet and while its completely contrived to say that they are taking Europe by storm, they quite simply are. The buzz around and behind this band is entirely justified. Think Heaven Shall Burn meets Earth Crisis at their peak in terms of ideas. A band of actual activists singing songs about activism? Incredible. Highly recommended.
Behemoth – “I Loved You At Your Darkest”
I know…this isn’t a hardcore record. But if you’re a Behemoth fan, and you’ve listened to this LP, you know that they deserve respect for putting out a record that was the exact opposite of what everyone expected. This is more like a Dimmu Borgir record than a Behemoth record. At first I was slightly confused, but with a second listen I was totally impressed. Good for them for trying something new.
The Devils Trade – “Those Miles We Walked Alone”
You’re going to have to work to find and become a fan of The Devils Trade, because the traditional channels you explore for new music and the hardcore scene aren’t going to send him directly to you…but he is your kindred spirit. A combination of folk musician, Hungarian traditional musician, Tom Waits, and all with a hardcore mentality, The Devils Trade is a solo singer songwriter who you absolutely check out to expand your horizons into why he says “happy music is shit”.
Life Force – “MMXVIII Demo”
Life Force is a new edge band from the USA with a demo just out in 2018 and a 7″ to come in 2019. More metal than traditional hardcore, and thankfully so, Life Force has a savagery to it and a self-awareness leading them to say that “Passion without action yields a lifeless ‘core'”. Hell yes.
Despite Despair is from Salt Lake City, Utah, one of the strangest and most compelling cities in the world. When you combine a climate of ultra-space-alien-level conservativism, pristine natural beauty, and an undercurrent of rebellion against the alien invaders, you get the environment which breeds a band like Despite Despair. Existential, socio-political, personal, pained, and powerful.
Judas Wolf – “Snow Turns Red”
Brand new as of just a few days before writing this is Judas Wolf from Australia and their new 7″. This record is immensely heavy, double bass driven metallic hardcore, with poetic/political/social justice lyrics and just a relentless approach overall. It is the perfect complement to the Tempest record described above.