The Top 25 Records of 2022!

Getting straight to the point, 2022 has been one of the most eventful and impressive years that alternative music has seen in quite a long time. The world has seen triumphant and long awaited returns from some of the most loved rock and metal acts in history. My Chemical Romance released their first new song in what feels like forever, Rage Against The Machine returned to the live stage along side their generationally talented vocalist, Zack De La Rocha, and of course, Pantera reuniting to start playing shows in memory of late guitarist, Dimebag Darrell, and drummer, Vinnie Paul.

More exciting than live acts returning to the stage, the EP’s and LP’s of 2022. Plenty of records on this list are going to be brand new faces, who have made quite a name for themselves over the past few months. When we look at the standouts of music this year, without a shadow of a doubt, hardcore has to be the standout genre this year. Their is so much creativity and originality coming out of all hardcore scenes across the country. So, buckle up for a lot of hardcore on this list.

  1. Anxious, ‘Little Green House’

Little Green House absolutely has to take the top spot on the top 25 of 2022. This is a must listen, it fuses three of the best things in alternative music, hardcore, pop-punk, and emo. It’s 32 minutes of diveristy and intrigue, energy and lethargy, and emotion. In all honesty, there are not too many albums that have left me speechless before and though it came out at the beginning of the year, words are still hard to describe what this album is and how it makes me feel.

2. No Pressure, ‘No Pressure’

Alright, now this was an easy second choice. If you wanna take a trip back to the early 2000’s pop-punk scene, this is your chance. Having the chance to see them live a few months back further exceeded my expectations of this band. The crowd went insane, small room with no barricade, crowdsurfers, stagedivers, and two-steppers galore. This is a pop-punk record that will have you cheesing from ear to ear for all 23 minutes of the 10 songs.


Initially, when this record came out, I sort of just assumed it was going to be my album of the year. The singles leading up to the eventual release were really getting everyone pumped up. As Bad Omens was gaining some steam in the scene, they dropped the bomb on the world with this fantastic and nuanced piece of alternative and industrial sounding metalcore. The beautiful haunting vocals that are paired with

4. Drug Church, ‘Hygiene’

Hygiene is the fourth epic from the New York seemingly stoic hardcore outfit, Drug Church. Vocalist, Pat Kindlon changed nothing about what makes them who they are. Simple chord progressions that pair perfectly with the pithy one-liners and hooks that stick in the mind for days. Drug Church is a staple of modern hardcore, they bring something different to the table that every other band should be looking at.

5. Soul Blind, ‘Feel It All Around’

Soul Blind was a band that seemed to fly under my radar in recent years. They’re one of the newer and younger bands associated with the hardcore scene and I guess I just never gave myself the chance to listen. That is until this record came out, it’s perfect fusion of grunge, hardcore, and shoegaze is something I have not experienced before. I believe everyone ought to experience the pieces they crafted for this release, you will not regret it.

6. AVOID, ‘Cult Mentality’

Cult Mentality was one of my most anticipated releases for the year. AVOID really stormed the metalcore scene this year, the guys are still fairly green, but they do not show it. Their recorded music and live performances are energy packed and infectious. The best descriptor of AVOID is “the bros”, they just give off the vibe in the best way possible. They’re at the top of my list for bands I want to hangout with.

7. Speed, ‘Gang Called Speed’

Thus marks the first EP on our list. Gang Called Speed by the Aussie pit starters is brutal and a hardcore fans dream. Flatspot Records crushed this release and helped get these guys a spot on all of our maps. Their insane set at Sound and Fury fest this year helped as well, but it’s songs like, ‘Big Bite’ that just stick. Forget coffee, cold showers, or working out. Listen to this EP in the morning to wake you up and prepare your body for the day. It’ll certainly do the trick.

8. Dayseeker, ‘Dark Sun’

Dayseeker is another band that has been crawling their way, rung by rung, up to the higher tiers of metalcore adjacent music. They have been in the game for a little bit now and are seeming to hit their stride. This record is one of their biggest helps with that step. Similar to most of their work, the instruments are solid, doing their jobs, but the star is vocals, it has been and most likely always will be. Rory Rodriguez has an intoxicating tonality that all singer should strive for.

9. Denzel Curry, ‘Melt My Eyez See Your Future’

Yet again, Denzel Curry releases a masterclass in rap and hip-hop. For the few year that Denzel has be knocking around my playlists, he has never ceased to impress. His roots and influences can be heard in every track. He has undeniable flow and does not shy away from speaking the truth and being vulnerable with his songs. In a world where a lot of popular music sucks, its nice to know there are some serious diamonds in the rough. Denzel Curry is going to be a generational talent when it is all said and done.

10. Kublai Khan TX, ‘Lowest Form of Animal’

Now we’re back in hardcore territory with the latest from Kublai Khan TX. Another band with no misses yet on any of their releases. This EP hits on some really challenging things to listen to. The title itself is sort of a way to describe and individual that is in the lowest of lows in their life but is still hungry and will claw and scratch to get from where they are. Just listen to ‘Swan Song’ that features Scott Vogel of Terror. It does not get much harder than what that song is describing.

11. Mindforce, ‘New Lords’

The crossover kings of the Hudson Valley dropped one of the most exciting albums this year from Triple B Records. Mindforce has been a personal favorite of mine for virtually the whole year, their first full-length, ‘Excalibur’ was nothing short of fantastic. They kept on course with ‘New Lords’. New York hardcore with riffs and solos that make thrash metal heads turn their ears is just what we all need. A modern take that brings us back a few decades. I told my parents this kind of music was educational.

12. Malevolence, ‘Malicious Intent’

Dude, this record is so metal. With this release, Malevolence moved themselves to the upper eschelon of British metal. You know you are doing something good when you release a couple singles and Lamb Of God comes asking for you to open their shows overseas. The riffs, the breakdowns, the vocalist sounds like he’s chewing on meat, and all those things combined mesmerizes us metalheads. If there was ever a concert to go to that makes you want to have your nose broken, it has to be Malevolence.

13. Doubt It!, ‘Demon Dance’

Had to toss this one on the list. Detroit’s own put out this amazing piece. The melodies are so infectious and groovy, about as groovy as hardcore can be. I was really impressed with this record, you can hear the creativity and underground scene in all of the songs. Doubt It! is one of the Detroit DIY scene leaders in my eyes. Demon Dance just helps show their case for being one of the leaders as well.

14. XweaponX, ‘Weapon X Demo’

Y’all, straight edge is so dope. Weapon X just goes to show that on their first demo. The side project of Bryan Garris and Isaac Hale of Knocked Loose also features, Trey Garris of DARE on drums and Dave Baugher as the vocalist. This demo is brutal and in your face with the message and ideaologies of straight edge. If you want a modern learning session on straight edge, do not hesitate to check this one out.

15. Ghost, ‘Impera’

No shocker here, Ghost is one of the most unique bands in the rock and metal world. It’s one of the coolest experiences to listen to, it’s heavy while also being like cartoony in a way. It’s like Scooby-doo villain music, this record is through and through just full of heaters. Ghost has a lot of haters out there but it does not compare to the Ghost faithful. Impera is an album that everyone can enjoy listhening to, it would be a great gateway into harder rock and metal.

16. Inclination, ‘Unaltered Perspective’

Another Isaac Hale project makes the list and yes it is a straight edge record as well. A bit different than the previous on the list, Inclination absolutely hit the mark with this one. Unaltered Perspective is just a heavy piece that I believe full well could take inclination to new heights if that is something that the band wants to happen. If you are into heavier music, not even just hardcore, spin this one a time or two. You will not be dissapointed.

17. Gel, ‘Shock Therapy’

Gel is another band that flew under my radar for awhile as they are just really new. I stumbled upon this record fairly soon after it released and thank goodness that I did. Gel in five years time will be doing some seriously amazing things. You just get a feeling with some bands and I have that feeling with Gel, the tone of this record makes you want to move. The instruments hit hard and the effects on the vocals make it feel just different.

18., ‘This World Is Going To Ruin You’

Without a doubt, this is the heaviest record on the list. I would be willing to say it is a little too challenging to get into for those metal and hardcore listeners that don’t absolutely love the chaotic and almost power violent style of music. It came out fairly early in the year and has had enough time to sit with me that I definitely liked it more and more with each listen. I would say spin this one with an open mind and if you don’t like it, try some other records similar to it.

19. D Bloc, ‘Do Not Cross’

Another Detroit hardcore band deserves a spot on the list, D Bloc crushed it with this EP. I mean, just look at the album cover, it looks so old school and that’s the sound they went with. Just seeing them perform earlier this year was enough for me to give them the nod for the list, but the music more than helps them solidify their spot here. It’s hardcore with some gangster rap elements straight out of the 90’s.

20. Counterparts, ‘A Eulogy for Those Still Here’

Make no mistakes people, Counterparts is one of the coolest metalcore bands in the world. They get a lot of criticism for a good amount of their music sounding the same, but when you release music as good as you do, that should not be a problem to anyone. Brendan Murphy has a booming and very distinct scream and his lyrical writing ability is nothing to take lightly either.

21. Orthodox, ‘Learning to Dissolve’

So, you like beatdown hardcore eh? Well, have I got a record for you to listen to, the Nashville natives put out an album that strapped a rocket to their back that without a doubt will be taking off next year. To all venues and promoters in the USA, book these guys, you may end up with a few things broken or in need of repair, but I promise you guys it will be worth it. Orthodox crushes and will continue to crush until someone stops them.

22. L.S. Dunes, ‘Past Lives’

Personally, super-group bands are not my favorite thing in the world because more often than not, they end up sucking. L.S. Dunes does not suck in the slightest, with members from Circa Survive, Coheed and Cambria, Thursday, and My Chemical Romance, they created a really well done hard rock/emo album. Anthony Green’s signature vocals really help move things forward and the excellent musicianship keeps it steady.

23. Terror, ‘Pain Into Power’

It’s Terror people, need I say more? No? Didn’t think so.

24. Varials, ‘Scars For You To Remember’

Varials entered a new era in their career, they are no longer new to the heavy music world and it shows with this album. New vocalist and new sound as a band can be quite intimidating and can make or break a band. With how it is looking for Varials, this album is helping make them. They transitioned to more of a metalcore sound that I am hoping helps bring the genre itself out of somewhat of a slump I believe it has been in this year.

25. Stick To Your Guns, ‘Spectre’

Alright, we made it to the end of the top 25 records of 2022. Spectre was another highly anticipated album for myself as I am a huge STYG fan. Though Spectre is not my favorite work from the OCHC 20 year veterans, I believe fully that it still deserves a spot on the list. There are some serious heaters on this record that need to be heard. Even if it is not their best work, Spectre goes to show that even after 20 years, some bands can still put out great and I mean great music.

2022 was an amazing year for music and we all should be eager to see what comes of 2023…


Album Review: Darkroom, the Self-Titled LP by Darkroom.

Columbus Ohio is nothing new in the heavy music scene, especially when it comes to metalcore. In the past two years or so, metalcore and hardcore have become somewhat of a staple in the Columbus area. House shows, tiny venues, and even the occasional laundromat are all places you can go hear some beatdown style heavy music. Bands like Life Of Crime, Salt, and Crime Light are three bands that are doing their share of holding down hardcore in the Ohio scene. But today, we are talking about the metalcore and hardcore cross over outfit from Columbus, Darkroom.

Today is the release of Darkroom’s debut full length of the same name. It has been a long time coming for these guys, and the day is here. Having started working on this record since 2020, all of the DIY ethics and hardwork these guys put in is finally out for the world to hear. Let me start off with saying that you do need to listen to this record. This record is just shy of 30 minutes and ten beatiful tracks that beat you down, one after another. Each aspect of this record is something special, the beatdown style of hardcore and metalcore is nothing easy to do well. These guys cracked the code.

The riffs will stick in your ears like someone jammed an ice pick into, in the best way possible. Bass lines with distortion that will rattle your chest until your almost uncomfortable. Drums that are the driving force of the songs, the cymbals are mixed perfectly, the snare drum has the tone that you can feel in your teeth, and the fills fit perfectly. To cap it all off, the vocals on this record are nasty, just filthy and pissed off. The pitches and tones that are achieved in the vocals is something special.

Each track on this record brings something new and intriguing, two-step parts, hardcore breakdowns, violent hooks to remember, and they end the album on a metalcore style ballad. Keep an eye on these guys, if you see them playing a show in your area, be there. Darkroom has something to say and they do not care if you do not want to hear it. The entire album deserves to be listened to, but the three must listen songs are, Darkroom, Dirt, and Lifeless. The only negatives I truly have with this record is that it was not longer, if you are a fan of this style, you will surely agree.

Rating: 4/5

FFO: Varials, Knocked Loose, Kublai Khan TX, and Orthodox.

Danny Wimmer Presents Cornering the Rock and Metal Fest Market

In a world where music festivals have become the premiere concert experience over the past two decades, there are a few mainstays in the festival scene. Country, Pop, and EDM are the most prevalent. Stagecoach, Coachella, and Electric Forest are probably three of the most well known across the country. As of recent, those three genres are not the only ones getting love and attention. Within the past few years, not only in festivals but in genre popularity, rock and metal have grown substantially. Lollapalooza took a more rock focused approach this year, So What?! put on its’ biggest event to this day, and of course When We Were Young was incepted and celebrated its’ first two weekends. But let us all not forget about who really is doing rock and metal festivals the best.

Danny Wimmer Presents is a rock and metal titan, with six active festivals in the genre that occur every year, these guys know how to get it done and get RFID tags on wrists. They always bring a steady stream of classic and well known artists as well as the younger less exposed bands who are on their grind to get their names known. It seems like every month or so, us fans see an announcement from DWP related to a festival, whether it be confirmed dates for next year or when the lineup is coming out. Comparatively speaking, DWP festivals will not generally break the bank either. They understand what our weekends will look like there, buying food and beverages, merchandise, lodging, and parking at the festival unless you’re camping.

The cause for this article being written is really due to the return of Sonic Temple. Taking place at the Historic Crew Stadium in Columbus Ohio, Sonic Temple will be taking place in Spring of 2023. Many fans have been waiting for its’ return, due to the success of its’ of the first year in 2019 and previous years under the moniker Rock on the Range. Along side their recent acquisition and success with Inkcarceration, DWP is truly showing their loyalty to Ohio and the attendees that will travel in and out of state for their fests. With their other events taking place in Kentucky, Florida, and California, lots of attendees will go to multiple festivals throughout the year. If you go to one or two of these festivals you may get lucky and see Santa Claus, the mosh pit crew (complete with banner) or a kid with a mohawk that the 80’s punk scene would be proud of crowdsurfing on his dad.

You are certain to have a good time at any event you choose. Dozens of great bands to see over three or four days, good times, good people, and great stories to share after it is all said and done. There is nothing quite like walking the festival grounds right when you get inside on the first day, seeing your favorite bands all in one weekend, getting hyped up when Jose Mangin introduces bands to the stage, and maybe just maybe you will have a dope rap rock band playing in the parking lot afterwards.

DWP is a busy crew, they do their very best to give us fans enjoyable weekends, so if you get the chance to see Danny Wimmer, Danny Hayes, Ashley, or any staff member walking around, give them a quick thanks for what they do, we would not have these things without them.

What is going to come next from them? Will we see the return of Epicenter? Keep your eyes peeled folks. Check out their website for events and details!

Riot Fest 2022: Weekend Recap

I had the pleasure of attending Riot Fest this year in Chicago, Illinois. After right around three years of postponing, cancelling, and ticket transfers, I was finally able to go. I have a few weekend long festivals under my belt, but no Riot Fest experience prior to this year. In doing all my prior research of the festival, I found a few things to be daunting before going into the weekend. For starters, there was five stages, all with artists I wanted to watch at some point or another. Next, we stayed downtown, about a 25 minute ride on the Pinkline to get there, I was unsure how busy that would be in the mornings and at night after the headliners finished. Lastly, the crowds were HUGE bigger, than most festivals I have ever been to. Though I had my concerns, Riot Fest proved to be an amazing weekend.

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Friday: The first day of the weekend was definitely the busiest and most exciting. The group I was with started off the day with watching Sincere Engineer to see the corn dog circle pit. As a band, not my style, but they fit the Riot Fest brand fairly well. I was able to catch a few personal favorites I have seen before that day, such as, Wargasm UK, Boston Manor, and Hot Mulligan. Bands I saw for the first time that day were LS Dunes, Descendents, Taking Back Sunday, and Alkaline Trio. Lastly, the reason we were all there, My Chemical Romance. For the most part, I was impressed by every artist I saw that day, aside from one or two. It was a long time coming for me to see Descendents, they exceeded my expectations greatly and would encourage everyone to see them. Boston Manor crushed it just as they have the eight other times I have seen them. Alkaline Trio was awesome, when I was paying attention. Not their fault, we just made friends with the people around us and ended up playing Uno while we waited for MCR. Now, My Chemical Romance was everything I could have asked for and more. The whole band sounded great and Gerard’s vocals were out of this world. The only bummer was how the crowd was treating each other. Too many people trying to push past the people that had been waiting there all day and not caring one bit. But, what can you do.

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Saturday: Now, this day was almost as busy for me as Friday was. This was the most punk and hardcore heavy day of the whole weekend. The rest of my group, tired from the night before, decided to show up in the afternoon. That did not fly with me, so I went alone in the morning and made friends in line to hang with. Starting off, I watched POORSTACY, I only knew one of his songs at the time. He absolutely blew me away. Even playing mainstage in at noon did not stop him from getting the crowd to rage, his unique poppy yet still metal sound got my blood pumping and ready to go for the rest of the day. Mothica is one artist that I have to shout out. I have seen her name all over the place in recent months and knew I had to check her out. She was so impressive. I understand the hype, she has a beautiful voice, unique tones, catchy songs, and a great image. I was told by my Fiancée’s uncle, if I didn’t watch FEAR that I was making a huge mistake. Boy, he was right. Hardcore history displayed right out in front of me. Lee Ving in his old age was hilarious and I could see the years of experience and passion in him with every song they played. Movements and The Story So Far were exactly what I was prepared for, nothing surprising from either of them, but they were just as good as I remember. Madball was the band I was most excited to see that day and I made sure to go all in during their set. Walked away with minimal bruises and a mild headache from a few too many punches to the side of the head. Madball will forever and always rule the hardcore world. Unfortunately, I had to miss Bad Religion and Sunny Day Real Estate dude to scheduling conflicts. Last one, the original Misfits. Glenn Danzig on vocals, Jerry Only on bass, and of course Doyle Wolfgang von Frankenstein on lead guitar. I did not stay for the whole set, but they were unbelievable. Doyle is the most jacked and scary 58 year old I have ever seen. Jerry looked awesome and sounded even better. Glenn…oh Glenn. The voice of an angel with the looks of a gargoyle. All jokes of course, Glenn has seen some winters, but all things considered, he was up there moving and having some fun.

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Sunday: The last day was by far the lightest and easiest day for us. We ended up leaving fairly early. Started off the day strong with the Bombpops who brought a fun skate punk sound to the early crowd. After that, I was able to watch Chastity, their cool emo-ish pop punk vibe helped the, stick out to me throughout the day. Then, Mom Jeans drew a huge crowd for their instantly recognizable midwest emo tone. Less Than Jake was a fun one to see that I have never been able to check out before. Ska-punk is not my thing, definitely is for nerds, but a fun set nevertheless. PVRIS surprised me with how early she performed and how it was not on the main stage. It was good, not great, but the crowd seemed super into it. The last one we checked out for Riot Fest 2022 was Jimmy Eat World. I think they were awesome, we did not stand too close but just from where we were, Jim’s voice sounded great. Drew a big crowd but not nearly big enough in my opinion. Everyone should have been there to watch them.

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The weekend was awesome and I would definitely go back, I would just hope for a few changes. First, it needs to be held somewhere else, Douglass Park is definitely big enough, but the community around it does not support the fest organizers. For good reason though, the neighborhoods around do not reap any benefits from the festival. Either the fest needs to fork over some cash to help improve the community or move somewhere else…(Grant Park). The absolute worst part of the weekend was travelling at the end of the night. There was 40,000 people in attendance each day and they all wanted to leave the same way at the same time. There needs to be more trains available because no Ubers or Lyft’s were going to pick anyone up over there at that time of night in that traffic. Other than those two things, I would recommend everyone to go if you see the lineup that calls your name.

Album Review: No Pressure by No Pressure

The surprise release of the No Pressure EP in 2020 brought a lot of excitement to the world of pop punk, hardcore, and punk. Parker Cannon of The Story So Far, Pat Kennedy of Light Years, and Harry Corrigan of Regulate created this group as a way to take him back to his early days of playing shows. Low stages, no barrier, or security to catch crowd surfers. He said in a recent interview with Mark Hoppus that playing these No Pressure shows, “makes me feel like I’m 19 again”. Up until now, not many of us knew what the plan was for No Pressure. Was it going to be a one time release with the EP? Are they going to legitimately go out on the road? Recent events have told us what is going on with this band. Just off the release of their debut full length LP, No Pressure took part in their own UK headlining tour with support from the newest Bay Area heater Sunami. This debut LP is a sign that No Pressure is here to hang, you can just hear it in the music.

Album released on: Triple B Records

This album is chalk full of early 2000’s pop-punk sounds. Along with that, they have old school hardcore breakdowns that give them a unique edge that a lot of other bands in both genres do not have today. An interesting thing about them that has been noticed is their overwhelming applaud and acceptance from the hardcore scene. Though they are essentially an easy-core band (pop punk with breakdowns), they are at all hardcore festivals and play with almost exclusively hardcore bands. I do not think pop-punk as a genre is ready for this sound to come back. but by all means, the hardcore scene is happy to embrace this band.

Credits to LPR

This album is 10 songs long and a whopping 23 minutes in length. Personal favorites on this record are “Too Far”, “One Way Trip”. and “Sour”. If your are looking for fast songs with great hooks, then here you have it. There is at least one part in every song that feels like you should be watching a movie where the kid is getting ready for his first day of high school, brushing his teeth, spiking his hair up, taking a bite of toast and chugging some orange juice straight out of the carton. You can try your hardest but your head is going to start nodding and you’ll feel like bouncy along to the beats.

Overall, it is a great record, not as much like their first EP as some of us would have liked, but still this is a no skip album. I mean if you really dislike a song, they’re all basically under three minutes in length.

Rating: 8/10

The Triumphant Return of Hardcore

After 15 years plus of the hardcore scene across the globe being essentially dead, the genre that took the world by storm through the 80’s and 90’s is finally returning to the status it once held. Why is this happening? Who is causing it? and where is it going? are all questions that are going to be answered in this reading.

Photo Credits: CVLT Nation

Why is this happening? Hardcore was dead and no one really thought it would make it back and especially not as rapidly as it did. In my mind, history does not repeat itself rather it echoes. Older music in the past two or three years has made its’ way back into playlists everywhere. Now, not everyone is going to be listening to Bad Brains and DOA every day, we still crave those better recordings and better production. What do we do? We find modern music that has the same tone and ideas of older releases. Hardcore is a class example of this.

Photo Credits: Gabe Becerra and

So, who is helping hardcore making such an impactful comeback after so many years of dormancy? I chalk it up to a couple different things, popular artists not being shy about their love for heavier music or their releases of rock and metal inspired music. Artists like Post Malone, Lil Uzi Vert, and Halsey are just a few who are very open about their rock and metal influences. The second reason I believe it is making a comeback is due to the creativity and drive of the current artists in hardcore today. The two biggest names at the moment are of course Knocked Loose and Turnstile. Though on complete opposite ends of the hardcore spectrum, no one will call them anything different. Knocked Loose holds to the specific more beatdown style of hardcore that a ton of other bands are gravitating towards today like Orthodox, Kublai Khan TX, and Jesus Piece. Turnstile for the most part has held to a very traditional hardcore sound which you can best hear on their song Drop. Bands that lean more towards the classic or traditional sound currently would be bands like Never Ending Game, Mindforce, and Sunami. They all make heavy hitting hardcore tracks that new and old hardcore kids can get into. The same people that listened to Gorilla Biscuits back in the day could go see Mindforce and have a blast.

Photo Credits: Anthony Orosz

Where is this return to the spotlight taking us? Festivals is the answer. Apparently, the only appropriate thing to do with these bands gaining such popularity is to wrangle all of them up at different places during different seasons across the U.S. and throw them all on a stage. Have these festivals take place in old warehouses, YMCA’s or JCC’s, or any plot of land that a stage-dive worthy platform can fit. Festivals like FYA, Tied Down, Sound and Fury, and LDB. Respectively taking place all across the country, Florida, Michigan, California, and Kentucky all can call these shows their home. Depending on the festival, hundreds or thousands of people will be there to watch these acts entertain them.

Now, what do we do with this information? My piece of advice, give it a try if you haven’t, go all in if you’re just starting out, and if you are already in it, show others the things you love, mosh, two step, and stage dive.

2021’s Best EP’s of the Year!

The year 2021 saw a myriad of different exciting things happen in the music world. We saw the return of live music in the form of concerts and festivals, artists making their debuts, and many artists making returns. We were gifted plenty of amazing music that is changing the scene as we know it. There are so many highlightable releases that came this past year and today, we are narrowing down those to what I believe to be the best of the best when it comes to the EP’s released in 2021. We’ve narrowed down our EP’s of the year list to ten that we believe to be the best releases of this category from the past year.

10. Tawny by Drug Church

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The group of nihilists from Albany released a short but impactful EP that hits hard from beginning to end both musically and mentally. Drug Church is slowly making their way through the ranks as a powerhouse in music and with a label like Pure Noise Records behind them, there is no telling where they will slow down.

9. Everything Nice by Arm’s Length

Arm's Length: Everything Nice EP Album Review | Pitchfork
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This EP in my humble opinion is a self-released masterpiece, this record came from really young musicians that seem to have already figured it out. From start to finish, the mixture of old school emo and pop punk is present and it blended so well. The last track, “Garamond” is an excellent finish but, it could have kept playing for hours and it would have been fantastic.

8. Desperate Times, Desperate Pleasures by Boston Manor

EP REVIEW: Desperate Times, Desperate Pleasures - Boston Manor - Distorted  Sound Magazine
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Blackpool’s finest came out into 2021 swinging, they were frustrated with how the previous year went after tour cancellations and the world changing entirely. After the release of their last album, “GLUE” they were not able to support the album on tour, so they said they were moving into a new era of Boston Manor.

7. Hellbent by Impending Doom Impending Doom, "Hellbent - EP" Review
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A surprise release for all listeners of the Christian-Deathcore icons, after being announced that this EP would not be coming until 2022, they released it on a whim. It had been quite a while since we heard new sounds come from the voracious vocal cords of frontman, Brook Reeves. From the get go, each song has something unique about it that will make you want to grimace in disgust, heavy breakdowns with that sickest snare you will hear. Impending Doom is back with a serious message to send.

6. EAT by Poppy

Eat (NXT Soundtrack) - Wikipedia
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Poppy is a bit of a different character, in her realm of post-genre music, the world is her oyster. Releasing this record for WWE’s NXT brand, Poppy has been associated with this organization for quite a while now and has made an appearance or two on pay per views. The tracks all have that unmistakable Poppy sound, it is technical, industrial, and very heavy. Her music has always been and always will be interesting to the ear and fun to try and understand.

5. An Unexpected Reality by Gatecreeper

An Unexpected Reality | Gatecreeper
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When I think of the new era of Death Metal, two bands come to mind, the first being 200 Stab Wounds and the second being Arizona’s Gatecreeper. Having the opportunity to see Gatecreeper open for Knocked Loose and play some of these songs live was quite a delight. This record is on the long side of what an EP typically is but no one is complaining over here. Death Metal is making a come back and it is due to releases like this.

4. Blame Game by Beach Bunny

Blame Game | Beach Bunny
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Beach Bunny from the Chicago area is an indie-dreampop-basement sounding band that has gained a TON of popularity over the past couple of years. I have been patiently awaiting new music since their last album release, “Honeymoon” in 2020. Blame Game came at a perfect time and really has shown all of the developments this group has made since their early days. Announcing tours, selling them out fast, and announcing other tours before current tours are even over. Beach Bunny has serious heat behind every song and they prove it with every release.

3. …And I Return to Nothingness by Lorna Shore

And I Return To Nothingness - EP

After many what I would call tough times for Lorna Shore, they have made the biggest splash a deathcore band has made in well over a decade. With new vocalist Will Ramos at the helm, they released one of the most mind blowing deathcore songs in existence (To The Hellfire). There is no turning back now for these musicians, supporting already with a few shows featuring the likes of, The Last Ten Seconds of Life and Left To Suffer. Their latest claim to fame is getting announced as the opener for A Day To Remember and Bring Me The Horizon over in the UK and Europe.

2. ZII by The Devil Wears Prada

The Devil Wears Prada – ZII (EP Review) – Wall Of Sound

I would not say that TDWP was ever in a slump, but for a few years after the release of the highly praised “Zombie EP” their fans just never seemed to be satisfied with the changes made to the bands sound. With this EP named ZII or Zombie 2, the masses just ran back into the fold of TDWP, reminiscing on those awesome sounds of years prior. This go around with a little bit more of polished overall sound to the mix. It was a perfect creation that combined their classic aggression and bite from the year 2010 with all the different things they love about metal music today.

1.A Tear In the Fabric of Life by Knocked Loose

A Tear In The Fabric Of Life | Knocked Loose | Pure Noise Records

Well, of course this had to go into the number one spot. A concept album??? From a hardcore band??? I was all over this the second it came out. The visuals that came along side the record were the cherry on the top. The concept follows the story of a loving couple in which one of the partners passes away in a car accident while the other one continues to live but alone. It dives deep into the emotions that come with the grieving of a lost loved one and how one lives after a tragedy like that. Who would have that something as brutal as hardcore could make you shed a tear. Knocked Loose is going to be one of the bands that goes down as a legend of this generation of metal music, mark my words.

After it is all said and done, there you have it, these are the top 10 EP’s released in 2021. An excellent list and every single spot was well deserved and deserves listens from all of you! Let’s hope for an end of 2022 list just as good as this!

Pure Noise Tour Review!

Pure Noise Records is one of the coolest record labels out there today. They have such a wide variety of bands under their label name that seem to produce nothing but bangers release after release. One thing that has happened quite a few times in previous years is the label basically showcasing their artists but doing a label exclusive tour. They seem to switch every tour with it being hardcore/metalcore driven or pop-punk driven. This year was a pop-punk driven tour.

State Champs announce headlining 2021 Pure Noise Tour | NextMosh
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The real pop-punk artists on the bill consist of Bearings, Real Friends, and State Champs. Just Friends and Four Year Strong are apart of what I would call pop-punk adjacent genres. I bought presale for this show as soon as I could, not only did I know every band on the bill, I enjoy all of their music respectively, and I had seen all of them besides Four Year Strong. I had the pleasure of going with two friends who I had not been to a show with in quite awhile. We attended the Tempe, AZ date at one of my favorite venues The Marquee Theatre. For it being my first club show back, I was stoked for it to be State Champs headlining who have always put on a great performance all three times I have seen them.

We sat in line for awhile before we saw Cody from Real Friends and said hello to him. He came and talked to us for few minutes which was really cool, we’re big fans of his, he was a very nice guy and great performer. Once we got in, we scoped out the merch tables to see if anything piqued our interests and then we headed towards the stage. Bearings was up first and much to my chagrin there were not too many people in the crowd. I love these guys and think they should be playing front of thousands, one day these crowds will learn. After their set, Just Friends went on stage and made sure to get the moods up and required everyone to groove with them. The instrumentalists in that group are amazing, they just get it and it seemed effortless to them the whole time. They are always a seriously fun band to watch. Real Friends mad their long awaited return to live shows just before this tour with their new vocalist Cody Muraro formerly of Youth Fountain. Real Friends played old songs and new ones that called for entering the circle pit even though I had no plans to at the start. I love this band a ton, so it was great to have them back doing what they do best.

After an exhausting set from Real Friends, we grabbed some fresh air and watched Four Year Strong towards the back for a break from the action. I am not the biggest easy-core guy but, I am happy to say I got to see Four Year Strong, they definitely are one of the more underrated bands in the genre and put on a good live show. Now that we had some energy saved for State Champs, we knew we could go all in for the duration of their set. We pushed our way towards the front where we knew it was gonna get busy and everyone would be moving. Hundreds of crowd surfers, awesome push pits, and plenty of energy the whole time. They stacked their setlist with all their best songs that left us going home with no voice and zero energy. Oh yeah, and in need of a shower desperately.

Overall, it was a great first club show to be back at. There is nothing quite like the energy at a pop-punk show, especially after such a long time with shows. Every band has not missed a step over this break we had without them which gave me comfort and excited me for all the rest of the shows after.

Inkcarceration Festival 2021 Experience!

Under new management this year, Inkcarceration Festival has made quite the splash in the world of rock and metal. The haunted prison based festival has been around for a few years, just on a smaller scale. When Danny Wimmer took this project under his umbrella this year, there definitely were going to be major additions and improvements made to the festival as well as keeping a lot of the original aspects of the festival the same. I had the privilege of attending this year with weekend VIP passes. As a first festival back for many people it was sure to be a hell of a weekend and provide many stories to tell…

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For starters, this festival was sold out for the entire weekend which was music to our ears. I flew in for the fest the night before it began, landed at 6:30 am and then headed to the festival with three friends that I went with. I made sure to load up on caffeine because I knew that day one was going to be like running a marathon. Going into it, we had a list and schedule of who we wanted to see, what stage, what time, and whether or not we can sacrifice skipping their sets. We got their fairly early and were able to have almost front row parking which at the time seemed awesome, we will get into those details later… My friend Jake and I headed to will call to snag our wristbands for the weekend, and low and behold while he was getting the wristbands I noticed none other than Danny Wimmer himself…in the flesh…in his element…just standing there being unbothered by anything. Naturally, like the fangirl I am, I went to go bother him and speak with him. We spoke for a minute or two and Jake introduced himself as well. As we decided to go back to the line, Mr. Wimmer pulled us toward the gate by the security checkpoint of the festival and let us in to SKIP the never-ending line.

Map of festival grounds retrieved from:

Arriving that first day, we were just so happy to be back at a festival, let alone one of this magnitude. We made sure to familiarize ourselves with the festival grounds and see where everything that was interesting to us was located at. For Jake and I, the VIP only restrooms were a highlight for us. Our daily schedule had us stationed at the main stage all day. We started our day off with THE heaviest band of the weekend, Spite. These guys are some of the dopest deathcore musicians out there today. Darius Tehrani is one of the most energetic front men I have ever witnessed, with titanium vocal cords to say the least. After a monster set like that, we all grabbed a bite to eat and watched New Years Day put on a good performance, Ash Costello sounded spot on like recording which was great to hear. Badflower vocalist Josh came out before the set started and announced that he had laryngitis and could not sing but the band played their whole set and let the crowd of thousands sing all the words instead which made for quite an interesting energy. Ice Nine Kills came out after them and just destroyed, top 5 performances of the weekend for sure. They packed their set full of new songs that the radio has been riddled with as well as older stuff for the fans who have been around for a minute. Steel Panther provided some serious comic relief along with some nostalgic sounding hair metal songs. Although they joke around and make fun, these guys can play and perform so well. Killswitch Engage plays a ton of festivals and for good reason, they have been around for more than 20 years so they have a huge catalog that is filled with familiar metal anthems. Every time I have seen them I have sat their banging my head screaming all the words. Mastodon was a band that I only really knew one song well, the set they put on hurt my puny musician brain. The time changes, tempo changes, and key changes flooded the air and did a number on me. I sort of sat there jaw dropped, awestruck really. These were some of the tightest musicians I had ever seen. Then after what felt like an eternity, the curtain dropped and there stood Slipknot. The metal band of my generation, years of waiting to see them paid off and I could not be happier with their performance. The only complaint I had from that day was that there was no one to direct the literal thousands of cars in the parking lot afterwards. Danny Hayes had that issue fixed the very next morning.

Saturday was our light day so we took the chance at the beginning of the day to take a tour of the prison and check out where all of our favorite scenes from The Shawshank Redemption were filmed. Spent a little too much money at the merch tent and on a few *cough* beverages in the VIP lounge. The first band we checked out was Bad Omens, who I expected to be good but were very impressive. They ended their set with the brutal song Dethrone that made the crowd kick up a sinful amount of dirt. Crown The Empire crushed it after them, I often would forget that they were on the bill. Not because I did not think much of it but, my mind was stuck on so many other things. Andy’s vocals and energy blew me away. My only complaint was that they did not play Red Pills but, I guess that just means I have to go see them again. After quite a break of resting while bands played in the back, we were excited for Asking Alexandria until we found out they were not playing because their tour bus broke down. We pushed forward after Pop Evil so we could be close for Chevelle who were awesome, I had seen them before and was not too impressed but I think that was because of the venue. Now, the performance of the weekend came from none other than A Day To Remember, they’re a band who I had been meaning to see for a long time and I was completely blown away with the show they put on. There was streamers, rolls of toilet paper being thrown, confetti, as many mosh pits as I have ever seen, and people crowd surfing on top of other people crowd surfing. Their energy, tightness, and setlist variety was perfect. Easily, the best set of the entire weekend. Mudvayne played their first show in over ten years which was exciting to be a part of. They came out in full makeup which was to be expected, aside from the general excitement of them being there, not much about their performance was too impressive. Ryan Martinie is one of the best bass players of all time which was awesome to see but, Chad’s voice has not held up too well. Their other performance a month later at Aftershock was much better from what I heard and saw.

Sunday, our last day at the first festival back. Bittersweet, but it was a great way to end the weekend. Our two friends that accompanied us the first two days did not buy Sunday passes so, it was just Jake and myself. We started our day off watching Stitched Up Heart who has been making their presence known more and more with every release. They were impressive, even watching from the VIP stands off to the side. Then we same out to watch a couple songs from The Devil Wears Prada which was cool, definitely veterans in the Ohio metalcore world. Then Wage War was up next for us. We had watched them before, two years earlier and enjoyed it. This time around, we knew mostly every song they played and were up close. They were fantastic, they did their Wage War thing which consisted of hurting our necks from headbanging, melting faces with riffs, and making us scream our lungs out. Now, my little stretch of Heaven began with Wage War because after them was Motionless In White. They were one of the best live bands I have ever seen in both a club setting and festival scene. Crowd surfers were nonstop which was fine with me and basically everyone else. I stayed out of the mosh pit so I could save my energy for Ohio’s pride and joy, BEARTOOTH. My favorite band of all time, I have Caleb’s lyrics tattooed on me if that does not show you support for an artist, I don’t know what does. One of the most wild sets of the weekend, at least for me. The pits were insane, after leaving the pit, I stumbled my way to Jake, spitting out mud, blood falling out of my face, and out lungs full of dust. We were pretty beat up and tired by the end of their set so, we made the executive decision to pass on seeing Halestorm and Rob Zombie and headed home early.

After everything was said and done, Inkcarceration has taken the top spot on my festival tower. I am already planning to buy my passes for this coming July’s festival in the next few days. DWP taking over this festival as one of their own was a great move for DWP themselves and all those involved with Inkcarceration. This move is going to draw larger crowds, bigger artists, and more luxuries due to the increased levels of funds. DWP continues to amaze myself and thousands of others every single time that they announce lineups, put out new events, and they involve themselves with their supporters and communities.

Tour Talks: The Hella Mega Tour

Introducing something new this week; as much as we love sitting and listening to music, writing, and talking about it, we love going to concerts just as much, maybe even more. These ‘Tour Talks’ are essentially going to be discussing the overall lineup for the tour, setlist lengths, venues, and if we attend the shows, our opinions and experiences at the shows, and any other information we deem important to mention. With this first edition we are going to be discussing The Hella Mega Tour which features, The Interrupters, Weezer, Fall Out Boy, and being headlined by Green Day.

Tour Poster

Originally set to take place in 2020, but obviously postponed back a year. The whole basis of this tour was for the bands to prove that rock and roll is still alive within young people. With a lineup this huge, the shows would have no chance at being anything besides stadiums, upwards of 25,000 attendees at each show can be expected. The venues are ranging from open fields, baseball stadiums, and soccer stadiums. Tickets are available for GA standing, GA Seated, and pit tickets for the die hard fans. The stage is set up differently for each band that shows off the unique qualities each brand brings to the table. It really makes it seem like you are going to three different headliner shows.

The Interrupters play a cool 30 minute set of rock infused ska jams that you are only going to get from the West Coast. Their set contained high energy and catchy songs, though none of the other bands on the bill were playing ska music, I feel that the choice to bring this band on tour was perfect. Even if you had never heard their music before, their sound is going to draw you in and you will listen.

To really amp up the excitement, Weezer plays an hour long set of just under 20 songs. A ton of new material which to some people is cool and others not so much, but with as many songs as they played there was plenty of room to play all of their big hits. A stage covered with pastels, cool outfits, and Rivers Cuomo sporting the coolest mustache and sweatband around the head. The set ends with their iconic song, “Buddy Holly” where at the tail end they shoot load of confetti to the roaring crowd.

Fall Out Boy continued after a brief intermission to change the stage setup, another hour set but this time with an almost totally different vibe. A set full of hits, dancing, and the crowd singing almost louder than Patrick Stump. The performance itself was fantastic, tightness on all instruments, beautiful vocals that sound exactly like recording, oh and fire. A lot of fire, shooting from the stage and even the bass of Pete Wentz. The Chicago natives spread out their setlist evenly with a perfect mix of new and old songs. Finishing their set with the signature track of theirs entitled, “Saturday”. They played the perfect set to get everyone ready for Green Day.

Clocking in at just under two hours, the headliners and punk rock legends Green Day. Kicking off with ‘American Idiot’ the crowd is instantly pulled in and forced to jump around whether they like it or not. Billie Joe Armstrong made sure that the crowd got involved, he screamed at us, made us sing, dance, cry, and laugh for two hours. Not much new material was played by the guys besides their latest single ‘Pollyanna’. Other songs like, “Boulevard Of Broken Dreams”, “Basket Case”, “Longview”, and “Good Riddance” made appearances to the delight of all the fans in attendance. Several times throughout the show there are blasts of fire that those in the stands can feel, sparks falling on the stage, confetti, and a large firework show at the end of the night.

As a first concert back for many concert goers I do not know that I could have asked for a much better show to go to. My voice was completely gone by the end of the night. It felt great to be back and being in a place that makes me feel right at home, the people, the sounds, the smells, and the energy. There are a few dates left on the tour so if you have the chance and the cash, grab a couple tickets, it is definitely all worth it.