AOTY 2021: From the Guests

(Photo credit: Angie Aristodemo)

To put it simply, Resonating interviewed a lot of people last year. We officially published 25 interviews this year, across the zine and website, which is not only more than we’ve ever done in a single year, but over twice what we did in 2020. That’s insane to me.

The fact of the matter is, Resonating would be nothing without its interviewees. Without the bands, there’d be nothing to listen to, and nothing to write about. So, as a way to spotlight all the people I talked to this year as the amazing individuals that they are, I compiled this list. I asked each person I interviewed this year to tell me their releases of the year - here’s what they chose!

1.  Nick DeFabritus, All Under Heaven and Shackled

(Photo credit: Danielle Dombrowski)

1. Leaving Time - Self-Titled EP

Very sick, underappreciated EP.

2. Pain of Truth/Age of Apocalypse - Split

Two of my favorite hardcore bands at the moment.

3. cursetheknife - Thank You For Being Here

Love this record a lot, and I wanna play with this band. 

2. Michael Cucci, All Under Heaven

(Photo credit: Danielle Dombrowski)

1. Riki - Gold

2. Fleeting Joys - All Lost Eyes and Glitter

3. Black Marble - Fast Idol

4. Deafheaven - Infinite Granite

5. Bleed - Somebody’s Closer

6. Starflyer 59 - Vanity

7. Slow Crush - Hush

8. Xeno & Oaklander - Vi/deo

9. Leaving Time - Self-Titled

10. Beachy Head - Self-Titled

3. Mike Musilli, Become One

(On the right - photo credit: Justin Bernard)

Favorite LP: Time and Pressure - Halfway Down

This LP is an absolute banger, and offers aggressive but thoughtful hardcore, played with great precision. Listen to "Theseus" and "Paradise Lost," and tell me I'm wrong! An absolute tragedy that this LP is the band's swan song.

Favorite EP: Stand Still - A Practice in Patience

I can't get enough of this EP. Stand Still are mature and intellectual beyond their years, and the music and lyrics on this EP show that so clearly. I find myself listening to "Id" on repeat often. So much goodness on the horizon for this band, and I can't wait to hear more songs.

4. Tommy Harte, Broken Vow

(Photo credit: Hunter Lenoir)

2021 was an amazing year for hardcore in general, and it feels like a daunting task to pick just one LP, so with that in mind, I’ll pick 2. My personal favourite LP of the year was a tie between Be All End All - Pact Music, and Chemical Fix - Our Shade Casts Far. Fast, intense, two-steppable hardcore that often borders on grind or powerviolence is always right up my alley, and these releases were masterclasses of that. Quick shoutout to Adrienne and Since My Beloved for releasing my two favorite EPs of the year!

5. Tom Hively, Enervate

(Photo credit: Angie Aristodemo)

Citizen - Life in Your Glass World 

There were a ton of great records that came out this year, but to me, the standout was Life in Your Glass World.  it’s a record that I put on and I don’t skip a single song. Citizen has consistently put out great albums, but this one is definitely my favorite. I had Hot Fuss [by The Killers]  on repeat in high school, and this record vibes like that one did. I love the direction they went with this one.

6. Lan Milhomme, Enervate

(Photo credit: Brian Santostefano)

DARE - Against All Odds

The DARE record, from start to finish, just felt very high energy.  It was fun to listen to. 

Never Ending Game - Halo & Wings

So many sick melodies, and the beginning of “Halo & Wings” [the title track] is so fun and groovy.

7. Paul Vuksanovich, Fake Eyes

(Photo credit: Brooke Tucker)

My true AOTY is without a doubt Olivia RodrigoSOUR; no matter how I try to spin it, SOUR is undoubtedly the record I played the most times and that made me feel the most feelings (with Taylor’s Version of Red being a close second). But, because I don’t think taking up space in a hardcore zine/blog to talk about mainstream pop records is a good idea, I’m going to use my time to talk about Leaving Time’s self-titled debut EP, out on Tiger Records. I first heard of Leaving Time when Fake Eyes played with them in Jacksonville at a Jamaican restaurant on our tour with Soul Blind in January of 2020. They were a brand new band with no music out yet, but I knew Joel from Method of Doubt was in it, so my hopes were high. I remember sitting back at the merch table, exhausted, intending on staying there for most of the show—but as soon as LT hit their first note, I stood up and made my way through the steamy, likely COVID-ridden restaurant to see them up close. The guitars were loud, and the vocals indiscernible: just how I like my shoegaze-inspired alt-rock. 

Admittedly, through the mess of the pandemic and them having not released music yet, I kind of forgot about them. That is, until they finally put out their first record through Tiger Records (a very cool record store I visited on that same day in Jacksonville--highly recommended) in January of this year. With the record coming out so early in the year and having stuck with me enough to end up being the record I chose for this write-up hopefully attests to how much I like this band, especially with them having been such a new, low-key band for an entire year prior. They’re more than just another boring, mumbling “shoegaze” band; they’ve got the catchy vocal melodies and the memorable guitar leads, but with a noticeable hardcore-inspired edge to the groove of the drums. If you thought Whirr was too boring and “couldn’t get past the singing” in Hum, Leaving Time takes the best from both without being overly derivative—and I know derivative, trust me!

8. Carter Holmes, From Within Records

(Photo credit: Unknown)

Hellbound - Fury Never Dies

Stingray - Feeding Time

Shackled - Doubt Surrounds All

Dead Heat - World At War

Almighty Watching - Discography

Dead Last - Promo

Live It Down - The Last Judgment

Worn - Human Work

9. Will, Gridiron

(Photo credit: Sam Rottschafer)

1. Turnstile - Glow On

2. God’s Hate - God’s Hate

3. Cannibal Corpse - Violence Unimagined

4. Knuckledust - In Plain Sight

All 4 of these records cover what I love in guitar music. Turnstile have created a whole new subgenre that you really gotta see live. God’s Hate have unlocked a new level of hard and wrote an ‘06 MySpace breakdown. Cannibal and Knuckledust are still able to keep it fresh across the decades. These are the 4 from 2021 that I continue to go back to, but there are a ton more awesome records that came out this year, too. Solid year for music.

10. Jaime Inept, Ineptitude

(Now you knew he wasn’t just going to send me a normal picture…)

The first album that came to mind is Doubt Surrounds All by Shackled. Between all the hard-hitting riffs from beginning to end, that guitar solo on “Scorched Earth,” the personal lyrics, and the re-recording of “Mind's Eye,” gotta pick that album. “Mind's Eye” has also been an anthem of mine since I first heard it a few years ago. There’s other bands I need to mention though - Silenus, Final Rite, Big Shot, Momentum, MH Chaos, AOA and Pain of Truth, C4 - all dropped fire albums/EPs this year.

11. Skyler Rizzi, Ineptitude

I usually suck at picking favorites - I think I’d have to go with the Pain of Truth/Age of Apocalypse split. I found it on Spotify around the time we dropped the demo and instantly was hooked.

12. Kevin Kiley, Lurk

(Photo credit: Vince Gudauskas)

Favorite records of 2021 were probably Shame - Drunk Tank Pink and Cory Hanson - Pale Horse Rider.

Drunk Tank Pink feels like a modern/post punk approach take on the Talking Heads. It feels chaotic and complex but at the same time very groovy and packs some great choruses. Very great lyrics as well.

Pale Horse Rider is great for any 70’s country or Neil Young heads. I loved Cory’s first solo record and really dig the direction of this one. Great songwriting and pedal steel work.

13. Martin Espinoza, Maya

(Photo credit: Zac Zavala)

2021 was a great year for music! So many great records from bands new and seasoned. However, I spent the most time with Glow On  by Turnstile. I feel they pushed the boundaries of hardcore with this record, from the sound of the music to the roll out of the album. It’s hella inspiring and exciting to see hardcore being embraced in spaces it has yet to be heard!

14. Anchit Chhabra, MH Chaos

(Photo credit: Kyle Bergfors)

Pillars of Ivory - The Biblical Scripturez

An incredible combination of vocalists and music. Two of the best singers in the game in regards to lyrical content, flow, style, stage presence, and the things they say up there, in-between songs and during them. The guitar work sounds like it’s out of this world and not of this year. 

Section H8 - Welcome to the Nightmare 

Every song on this album is a banger and unique from each other. I think this album represents our hardcore scene in 2021 in an amazing way. It has fast thrash parts, hard-ass riffs, hard gang vox, Fury of V/Biohazard-type parts, hard-hitting drums, and amazing flow and vocals. All of the pieces of the puzzle truly make this band a hardcore army, and I’m here to be a part of it wherever I get to see them. 

Pain of Truth/Age of Apocalypse - Split 

Pain of Truth’s side has some of the hardest tracks I’ve heard come out this year. It’s straight-up evil. The Age of Apocalypse side complements it perfectly. The dark Life of Agony/Only Living Witness style they’ve honed, but made their own, is truly amazing and unique. Both bands are top-tier when seeing them play these songs live, and it makes it even 10x better.

15. Dave Chaos, MH Chaos

(Photo credit: Kyle Bergfors)

Presented without comment by Dave. I’ll allow it. - Angie

16. Trae Roberts, Mouth For War

(Photo credit: Little Hell Media)

Never Ending Game - Halo & Wings

This album is as heavy as it gets, while still touching on some rock n' roll elements in the mix. I fell in love on my first listen.

John Mayer - Sob Rock

Can't stop listening to this album. Lots of classic rock and 80’s vibes, while still sounding like John Mayer.

Sanguisugabogg - Tortured Whole

Destructively heavy debut album from a band full of badass dudes. A must listen.

17. Matt Anderson, Purgatory

(Photo credit: Kyle Bergfors)

Missing Link - My Time On The Cross. NYHC, the hardest band you haven’t heard.

Vomit Forth - 2021 Promo. Northeast death metal done right.

200 Stab Wounds - Slave To The Scalpel. Another hard death metal band doing it right.

Section H8 - Welcome to the Nightmare. LA Shit, enough said.

Purgatory - Lawless To Grave. Yeah, I’m saying my own band because we wrote an incredible record, so get over it.

Carried By Six - Eternity. East Coast HC that’s on its own playing field. Sick riffs and I love the vocals, chances are you haven’t listened yet, which you should fix.

There’s a ton of other things that came out, and I can go on for days, but those are the ones off the immediate top of my head.

18. Sean Kenny, Prospect

(Photo credit: Carl Gunhouse)

My album of the year is Human Work by Worn. They’re able to package together influences from things I’m not typically a fan of into something really interesting and different, a step above most other bands. True punk-influenced hardcore, with amazing production by Will. Other records I loved - Citizen, Webbed Wing, Cutdown, Violent Spirit and Koyo.

19. Tony Ortolano, Raw Life

(Photo credit: Kyle Bergfors)

I don’t wanna get into the self-important, “These are my top demos, these are my top LPs, this is my favorite blah blah blah,” so I figured I’d just mention stuff that stood out to me! 

Never Again - Demo 

Human Garbage - Cries Go Unheard 

Off The Tracks - Demo 

Law of Power - Demo 

MH Chaos - MH Chaos 

Section H8 - Welcome to the Nightmare 

The Chisel - Retaliation 

Chubby and the Gang - The Mutt’s Nuts 

Ekulu - Unscrew My Head 

Shackled - Doubt Surrounds All

20. Kat Moss, Scowl

(Photo credit: Gabe Becerra)

Billie Eilish - Happier Than Ever

Billie is one of my favorite artists, so I will not stop talking about her! This release was highly anticipated for me, because I had been a huge fan of her previous LP WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO? This record follows suit effortlessly and blew away all of my expectations. I didn’t think Billie’s vocal melodies, combined with songwriting and overall production, could get any better — but it did. Each song gracefully builds up to the title track “Happier Than Ever,” which then explodes with raw emotion from acoustic to electric guitar and a frenzy of feedback. It leaves with goosebumps nearly every time I listen.

Chubby and The Gang - The Mutt’s Nuts

Chubby and The Gang are my favorite band right now. I’m obsessed! This record is so cool. A total of 43 minutes long, double their previous LP Speed Kills with 15 tracks. I usually get a bit bored with punk records longer than 25 minutes, but somehow this one holds my focus. I particularly love the songs “Lightning Don’t Strike Twice” and “Take Me Home To London”. Chubby harnesses raw punk energy, while writing incredibly catchy and melodic ballads - something that I find rare coming from a modern rock band.

21. Dylan Wasesky, Shackled

(Photo credit: Kinkade Ruppert)


Ekulu - Unscrew My Head

Dead Heat - World at War 

One Step Closer - This Place You Know

Worn - Human Work 

Ingrown - Gun

Gridiron/Despize - Split 

Never Ending Game - Halo & Wings 

The Chisel - Retaliation


Beskar - all of them 

Faith Alone 

Dead Last 

Almighty Watching 

Never Again 




I’m forgetting shit, but I’ll end with this... Last but not least, Juice Wrld - Fighting Demons.

22. Cen, Soul Blind

(Photo credit: Daniel Spence)

EP: Bleed - Somebody’s Closer

This shit bangs. Reminds me of being 13 and wanting a dirt bike, but my moms wasn’t going for none of that. Check this out immediately if you grew up on 2000’s alt rock.

ALBUM: Silk Sonic - An Evening With Silk Sonic

Once they dropped “Leave the Door Open,” I knew the album would be amazing. I love 70’s and 80’s R&B and soul, so hearing a modern take on that sound in such a mainstream light was cool to see. Hosted by Bootsy... Come on now.

23. Lexi Reyngoudt, Spaced

(Photo credit: HMNI Photo)

So, my album of the year is Glow On by Turnstile. Turnstile has always been a super influential band for me, and this album is now one of my go-to no-skip albums. They’re doing some crazy things after this release, and it’s really awesome to see!

24. Zach Godwin, Sparing

(Photo credit: Timothy Folwell)

My favorite commercial release of the year was the Sufjan Stevens + Angelo de Augustine record, A Beginner’s Mind - stripped-back indie folk, which is the way I love my Sufjan, haha. Was a record with films as the subject matter, was such an easy record to get lost in, not just with melody, but also with the stories.

My favorite smaller release was Photographic Memory’s self-titled LP. Was the first release in the Sunday Drive discography that I fell in love with. Insanely catchy guitar parts, with simple but effective electronic drum loops. Amazing hooks on each song, I still can’t get enough of these songs and it’s been almost a year!

25. Andy Villhauer, Spark

(Photo credit: Jack Worley)

Picking one favourite record of an entire year is always tough, but after some thinking I gotta give the trophy to an obvious one: Ekulu‘s Unscrew My Head. What can I say? Killer riffs, super catchy song structures, and smart lyrics. It helps to like the more metal records of Cro-Mags, but then again you also have a straight-up banger like "Pick Your Fight" that gets to the point right away. Unscrew My Head hypes me every damn time, and just generally makes me stoked on hardcore.

Thank you again to all the bands who contributed to this article, as well as the interviewees who weren’t able to. I appreciate every last word you’ve shared with me this year.

Stay tuned for my own AOTY list - in the meantime, enjoy this playlist made from everybody’s answers!


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