Releases of the Year: 2021


1. Doubt Surrounds All - Shackled

From Within Records

As someone who's been following this band for a few years now... From the moment I first put this record on, I was already impressed. The very first song (and arguably the hardest), “Blinded,” is an immediate punch-in-the face that sets the tone for the rest of the album. While Doubt Surrounds All sees the band deepening and exploring their sound, make no mistake - Shackled is still straight-up, no-artificial-flavor-added hardcore. Between this record and their previous EP, One Way Out, there’s definitely a noticeable change as the band leans into some darker, heavier metallic hardcore influences - but, in my opinion, all those risks pay off. One of the most easily-perceptible things about DSA, to me, was how personal and raw the lyrics are this time around. A lot of bands have written great albums about their personal struggles in the last few years, due to the obvious circumstances - but this album manages to explore a lot of the common themes that the general public is going through in a way that’s going to be universally relatable for years to come. Doubting your personal abilities (“All I Feared”), doubting whether you have enough time left to do the things you want to do (“When Time Stops”), doubting the longevity of your relationships (“Nothing Ever Came”), doubting what’s going to happen in regards to the things that you love… The lyrics are refreshingly honest, and come right on time. On that note, a lot of awesome lyricists can fall flat without the right music behind them, but that’s not remotely an issue here. Drummer Nick DeFabritus told Resonating he aimed to make the drumming more complicated, which is a goal he definitely achieved. Besides that, each song has its own personality and riffs that make it memorable. Some other notable aspects of the record include the guitar solo on “Scorched Earth,” as well as the two guest features - Dan Schultz from Worn on the title track, and Carter Holmes (ex-Cradle to Grave vocalist, currently best known for drumming in Payback and heading From Within Records) on “Our Home.” And, best of all, this is achieved in a record that’s just over 15 minutes long. I could go on forever, but I’ll stop myself here. It's been awesome watching this band grow - this is undoubtedly my favorite hardcore record from 2021.

Read our November interview with Dylan and Nick if you want a deeper look at lyrical content, musical inspiration, and more.

My favorite tracks are Blinded, Nothing Ever Came, All I Feared, and When Time Stops.

2. Life in Your Glass World - Citizen

Run For Cover Records

As someone who will always have a small part of myself stuck in the 2015-16 era of Run For Cover Records, Citizen will always hold a place in my heart. Now, in all honesty, most of their records just haven’t hit me the same way that Youth did. However, on the gloomy, rainy spring afternoon that called me to listen to this album for the first time, this changed entirely. Life in Your Glass World sees Citizen settle into a comfortable and natural maturation from their previous works. Between each record, the band has taken influences of pop punk, emo, indie rock, and the varied sounds of 90’s-00’s alternative rock. On this record, they take all the best elements of each and blend them into something new entirely. From the very first track, this album reminds me of every band I didn’t feel cool enough to like as a kid in the early 2000’s - rock music that was striking and poignant, while still being something you could dance to, probably the only CD your childhood friend’s younger mom had in her car. Yet, just as soon as Life in Your Glass World calls you to move, balance is brought in by the third song, “Blue Sunday,” which is probably the most melancholy, slow track on the record. The tempo is switched up a few more times, with “Fight Beat,” a drum, bass, and electronic sound-driven track that is deceptively calm, given its malice-filled lyrics, and “Glass World,” an acoustic song that calls back to the band’s early roots. The standout track from the very beginning, in my opinion, has always been “Edge of the World.” Guitarist Nick Hamm described the track to Depth Magazine: “It really feels like the sun coming through the clouds a little bit. … I think every time we release an album we’re relieving a little bit more pressure, giving ourselves the ability to do even more of what we want, pushing a little bit further and really enabled us to get ourselves out there.” Indeed, the closing track sweeps all the difficult feelings from the previous tracks into a corner - but it keeps them in a box to look at later. All of that will still be there later when it’s needed, but Citizen is instead choosing to look at the hope that lies ahead. I think that’s an idea we can all afford to take something from.

My favorite tracks are I Want to Kill You, Call Your Bluff, Pedestal, Fight Beat, and Edge of the World.

3. How Flowers Grow - Scowl

Flatspot Records

I've said it once and I’ll say it again - Scowl are definitely one of the most exciting bands I’ve discovered this year. They hit my radar when footage of the Real Bay Shit show hit the internet this past summer, and I was already plenty stoked on the EP and demo they put out in 2019. However, the band truly burst into the stratosphere when they released How Flowers Grow this November.  If there’s one thing I noticed and loved immediately about this band, it’s this - they have nothing to prove, and they’re not interested in fitting into your mold of what a hardcore band should be. A lot of growing bands would feel the pressure to go with trends, but I’ve never once felt like this band was pandering to what would get them listeners. From the band’s floral aesthetic and themes, to the mellow alt-rock track “Seeds to Sow” in the middle of the album, to their honest lyrical content that comes from vocalist Kat Moss’s direct experience, they do everything they do with true self-expression in mind. Every word, every riff, every drum beat, goes towards Scowl digging in their roots and claiming their space in the genre. This album is 15 minutes of nonstop fast, unforgivingly aggressive hardcore, with lyrics that get straight to the point, delivered by Kat’s signature furious vocal style.  In an interview I did with them last month, she informed me that the band takes a lot of influence from 70’s and 80’s punk, as well 90’s alternative bands, which shines perfectly on How Flowers Grow. The cherry on top is the CAHC cosign that comes from Sammy Ciaramitaro from Drain in the form of a guest spot on “Bloodhound.” The dynamic trade-off style that the singers share on that track perfectly encapsulates Scowl’s ability to combine fun and antagonism into the same song. Whether you’re a longtime fan of faster, punk-influenced hardcore bands, or you’re just getting into them - this is a great record for you.

You can read Kat and I’s November interview for more details on the record here!

My favorite tracks are Bloodhound, Dead to Me, Seeds to Sow, Fuck Around, and Four Walls.

4. Collider - All Under Heaven

Sunday Drive Records

Despite being a pretty low-profile band, New Jersey shoegaze All Under Heaven blew me out of the water with this EP. They are, without a doubt, one of the best bands that came out this year. Though the band is mostly made up of members of NJHC band Shackled, this project is worlds away. Many members of heavier bands have tried to do a softer project (especially in 2020-2021), but All Under Heaven set themselves apart in a sea of similarity with Collider. When writing for this project, vocalist, guitarist and lyricist Nick DeFabritus told Resonating that he took influence from bands like Starflyer 59, Team Sleep and Title Fight. The result is a dreamy EP that feels like an experience from start to finish. Though their sound is hazy and thick, with Nick’s soft, solemn vocals flowing through, the guitar and drums cut through the layers easily. The lyrics are contemplative and mournful, keeping an abstract meaning that lets the listener make their own interpretations. Each song holds its own individual identity, while all still fitting together well as a collection. I’d be very excited to hear a full-length from this band if they ever chose to release one. If you’re looking for a chiller option from this list, this is the one. Go find somewhere sunny to lay, close your eyes, and listen to Collider.

If you’re so inclined, you can read more about the band’s beginnings and inspiration on this EP in our Feburary interview with Mike and Nick.

My favorite tracks are Desperately Seeking Answers and Afterthought.

5. Human Work - Worn

From Within Records

To paraphrase myself from zine #4, Worn put themselves on my radar with an email when this record came out, and I didn’t give it the attention it deserved - a decision I was absolutely kicking myself for making. If you asked me for a 2021 hardcore record that was unlike anything else that came out last year, this would be my choice. I think the reason this record is so hard to pin down genre-wise is the fact that it’s just straight-up hardcore. There’s influences from things like powerviolence, punk, and other (mostly fast) subgenres, but Worn keeps good, old-fashioned hardcore at the forefront. Still, there are plenty of intriguing things to listen for on Human Work. One of the most distinctive things about their sound is definitely the vocals. On this record, Worn packs a colossal amount of rage into just 20 minutes, but much of that is channeled through vocalist Dan Schultz’s seething vocal style. Combining that with the band’s pissed-off, thought-provoking lyrics, Human Work urges you to go outside and really take a good look at the abysmal world around you. Covering topics like war and the corrupt police force, the band isn’t afraid to set their sights on the US government and demand better - and they’re past the point of asking nicely. The thick, crunchy guitar tone, the loud, open sound of the drums, the heaviness of the bass - all of this sets the scene for a record that sounds like the musical equivalent of an assault on the worldview of the elites that are making you miserable. If you’re into hardcore that makes a statement, you should be listening to this record yesterday.

Dan and I will be talking in the 5th issue of the zine, so stay tuned if that sounds like something you’d be interested in reading!

My favorite tracks are Harm You, Military Dog, Public Execution, and Thrown to Dogs.

6. MH Chaos - MH Chaos

Fast Break! Records/From Within Records

I’d be doing Chicago hardcore a disservice if I left this record out - but I wouldn’t fucking dream of it. Though almost every member of the band are veterans of other legendary Chicago hardcore bands, MH Chaos dropped their first and only EP in 2018, which makes the impact they’ve had on the scene with just 4 songs that much more impressive. I tell you all of that to let you know that this self-titled LP is long awaited, and had a lot of pressure to live up to. From the very first listen,  I knew that it was everything that we had all been waiting for and more. As I said in this article a while back, MH Chaos is an undeniably heavy band, but they take those influences and turn them into something entirely different by putting a unique Chicago hardcore spin on them that the “beatdown” label doesn’t fully encapsulate whatsoever. This is an awesome example of a band showing love to the scene they came up in, while still developing their own identity. Despite that urge to carve out their own space, guest spots from Malone from Billy Club Sandwich ("9mm"), several members of Sector ("Bond"), Shane and Luke from legendary Chicago hardcore band The Killer, as well as Patric from Queensway "Natural Born Killers") emphasize that MH Chaos is a band that could never imagine going anywhere without thanking the brothers and mentors that helped them out along the way. On the topic of the band’s individuality, however - a lot of this uniqueness comes in the way that the members of the bands play as musicians. Drummer Alex “Beaver” Boyajian is an absolute machine, guitarists TJ Stella and Anchit Chhabra are an ultimate riff duo - and none of them are afraid to put their own flair on things. You’re never going to listen to this band and feel like you’re listening to a riff or a verse you’ve already heard somewhere else. This is perfectly complemented by vocalist Dave Chaos’s distinctive vocal style, as well as the band’s personal and to-the-point lyrics. With their writing, Dave and Anchit touch on everything from race and class disparity and grief… All the way to internet losers who need their asses beat. It’s an unrelentingly heavy 20-minute attack on the fakes, and a loud-and-clear shoutout to the real. Everyone needs to give this record a spin - especially if it sounds like they’re talking about you.

Check out my interview with Anchit and Dave if you want to hear more about how this record came together.

My favorite tracks are Chaos Returns, 9mm, Natural Born Killer, and Gravedance.

Other albums, EPs, demos, and singles (no order)

Demo - All Due Respect

Best track: “Delusion of Knowledge” 

America’s Hardcore Compilation Vol. 5 - Various Artists

Best tracks: “Dreamin’ Red” by Never Ending Game and “The Absolute” by Almighty Watching

Burden of Self - Almighty Watching


Life is Not a Lesson - Glitterer

Best tracks: “Bodies,” “Are You Sure?,” “Little Backwards Glance,” “Didn’t Want It,” & “I Made the Call”

Demo - Beskar

Best track: “Former Friend, Better Enemy”

Sane Mind’s End - Broken Vow

Best tracks: “Poison Peddling” and “Broken Vow”

Promo 2021 - Broken Vow

(single + cover)

Chaos Streaks - C4

Best tracks: “Real Estate Barons,” “Health Freak Head Stomp,” and “Fat Blue Line”

The Demo - Ineptitude

Best tracks: “Inept” and “Control (S.T.D.)” 

Ghost With Skin - Corbin

Best tracks: “Rambo,” “Don’t Give Up,” “Yes or No”, and “ctrl alt del”

In Ivory - Cold Joy

Best track: “Bone”

Demo - Crucify Me

Best tracks: “When Will It End” & “My Fate”

Demo 2021 - Cutdown

Best tracks: “Cut Down” and “Revenge”

Self-Titled - Deklination

Best track: “Digital Devil Story”

Self-Titled - Demonstration of Power

Best tracks: “Power” and “O.F”

No Time Left - Enervate

Best track: “My Fight”

Self-Titled - Faith Alone

Best tracks: “Deadly Force” and “S.T.S.”

Demo - Fatal Wound

Best tracks: “Pathetic Worm” and “Senseless Slaughter”

Between the Richness - Fiddlehead

Best tracks: “Loverman,” “Down University,” and “Get My Mind Right”

… IN COLD BLOOD … - Final Rite

Best tracks: “The Truth” & “... In  Cold Blood…”

Self-Titled - God’s Hate

Best tracks: “Finish the Job” and “Six Feet Deep”

Worldwide Brotherhood (split) - Gridiron/Despize

Best tracks: “Ain’t Turned Mine” by Gridiron and “Spirit in Black” by Despize

Ahead of the Game - Hesitate

Best tracks: “Ahead of the Game” and “Grip” 

Demo - Hold My Own

Best tracks: “Deceit” and “Snake Ta Sneak”

Gun - Ingrown

Best tracks: “Waste,” “Shell” and “Snake Stomp”

JVBM - Jivebomb

Best tracks: “Cidade Charme” and “JIVEBOMB”

Drives Out East - Koyo

Best tracks: “Moriches” and “Diamond One”

The Last Judgment - Live it Down

Best tracks: “Kill Chain” and “Final Nail”

One Scene Unity Compilation Vol. II - Various Artists

Best tracks: “The One Scene Pt. II” by Payback, “What Goes Untold” by Burning Strong, “Violent Instinct” by Invoke, "Shatter” by Almighty Watching, “Trust” by Point of Contact, and “Vengeance” by Final Rite

LP Promo 2021 - Life’s Question

Best track: “A Prayer For My Old Man”

Self-Titled - Momentum

Best tracks: “Overkill” and “Indulgence in a Lesser Self”

Halo & Wings - Never Ending Game

Best tracks: “Seething,” “But Not For Me” & “Halo & Wings”

Demo ‘21 - Never Again

Best track: “Disillusioned” & “Dead Wrong”

Demo - Not One Truth

Best track: “Blighted”

Nothin 2 Prove - Out For Justice


Sour - Olivia Rodrigo

Best tracks: “brutal,” “deja vu” & “jealousy, jealousy”

This Place You Know - One Step Closer

Best track: “Pringle Street”

Demo - Off the Tracks

Best track: “What It Takes”

It Is What It Is - Payback

Best tracks: “The Anthem (It Iz What It Iz)” & “Tha One Scene II” 

The 2021 Demo - Pinned

Best tracks: “We Hate Your Style”

Split - Pain of Truth/Age of Apocalypse

Best tracks: “Blood On Your Hands” by Pain of Truth and “Grief” by Age of Apocalypse

Promo ‘21 - Prospect

(2 songs)

The Chicago Sector Promo - Sector

(2 songs)

Lawless to Grave - Purgatory

Best tracks: “No One Gets Out Alive” & “Clarity”

Hardcore Latino - Raw Brigade

Best tracks: “Latinxs”

Split - Restraining Order/Warfare

Best tracks: “Undercover Cop” by Restraining Order and “Domination” by Warfare

Split - Sector/Raw Life

Best tracks: “The Mark” by Sector and “Living in Spite” by Raw Life

Demo - Snubnosed

Best track: “Your Lies"

Demo - Spaced

Best tracks: “YOUR UNIVERSE” & “THINK I AM”

Third Chain - Soul Blind

Best track: “Misplaced”

Two New Joints - Spaced

(2 songs)

Habitual Offender - Spy

Best tracks: “Afraid of Everything,” “Violent Majority” & “Exceptional American”

Still Over It - Summer Walker

Best tracks: “Bitter,” “Ex For a Reason (ft. JT)”, “No Love (ft. SZA),” & “Circus”

I Hate U - SZA


Retaliation - The Chisel

Best tracks: “Unlawful Execution,” “What Was Mine,” & “Will I Ever See You Again?”

Call Me If You Get Lost - Tyler, the Creator

Best tracks: “WUSYANAME (ft. YoungBoy Never Broke Again,” “LUMBERJACK,” “HOT WIND BLOWS (ft. Lil Wayne),” “MASSA,” “MANIFESTO (ft. Domo Genesis),” “SWEET / I THOUGHT YOU WANTED TO DANCE (ft. Brent Faiyaz & Fana Hues),” & “WILSHIRE”

What’s So Fucking Funny? - Webbed Wing

Best tracks: “Years,” “Make a Dime,” & “Need You Around”

Systematic Seed - Worn


An Evening With Silk Sonic - Silk Sonic (Bruno Mars & Anderson .Paak)

Best tracks: “Leave the Door Open” & “Smokin Out the Window”

Good Ones - Charli XCX


Milwaukee Style Compilation

Best tracks: “No Heaven Above” by Infamy, “Contempt” by Reality Check, “Tapeworm” by World I Hate, “Why?” by Shamewave, & “My Fight” by Enervate

Planet Her - Doja Cat

Best tracks: “Woman,” “Naked,” I Don’t Do Drugs (ft. Ariana Grande),” “You Right,” & “Kiss Me More (ft. SZA)”

Demo - Instill

Best track: “Will to Change” & “Who is Left”

Happier Than Ever - Billie Eilish

Best tracks: “Happier Than Ever,” “Billie Bossa Nova,” “Therefore I Am” & “I Didn’t Change My Number”

Better late than never, right? I’m insanely happy that I was finally able to get this article up, because I have a ton of fun writing it every year. The top picks are a little light this year (life happens) - but I can guarantee that just means the records I chose to write are my absolute favorites from 2021. Check those out immediately if you somehow missed any of them.

As I mentioned in the previous post, I interviewed a ton of people for the website and zine this past year, so I would like to send my thanks to the Resonating Class of 2021. I appreciate all of you, and I hope there’s twice as many names here next year.

If you’re interested in seeing the 2021 interviewees favorite albums from this year, you can check out the list here. Find something new - there’s a lot of great choices from people whose taste in hardcore might differ from mine.

Understandably, finding the time and energy to write in 2020 was incredibly hard. After using much of that year to reflect on what I enjoy doing with Resonating, I realized how much I love just talking to other people - about hardcore, their lives, anything - which resulted in us doing more interviews than anything else this year. I’m glad that it seems like a lot of you were down with that shift, too!

I’d also like to extend my thanks to Milwaukee Hardcore Shows, MH Chaos, Sector, Purgatory, Low End, Cross Me, Shamewave, Slowpanic, Payasa, Bird Law, Enervate, Reality Check, Life & Death Brigade Records, 1648 Records, Bleed4Us, and X-Ray Arcade for helping make the second Midwest Hardcore Popup in Cudahy, WI such a success. There was a million goddamn people there and it was one of the best days I had all year.

Instill, Payasa, Enervate, Broken Vow, Spaced, and JJ Kaiser (of Bar & Grill fame) all have my eternal gratitude for making my first-ever show so awesome. I hope to book another one as soon as possible, and I hope it’s just as cool.

Anyway - that’s it for the thank yous. I know this part of the post always gets longer and longer, but you’ll never convince me that’s a bad thing.

Check out the playlist below if you’re interested in listening to some of my favorites.


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