Okay. So I came across a viral article about 20 positive hardcore bands to brighten your day and lift your mood when you are forced to spend ages at home during the Coronavirus crisis.
The article was indeed fine, especially for anyone who’s new to hardcore and straight edge but it was also quite obvious that: first, all these bands are either big names (YoT, GB, Judge, H2O, 7 Sec, etc.) or hyped newer bands on well-known labels; and second, all these bands were either coming from the States or Canada.
We all love lists, but I decided to do something different for DIY Conspiracy.
Today, I want to share 20 melodic hardcore bands that influenced me around 2005-2010. All these bands are no longer active but I think they all played with such intensity and passion that their music will surely uplift your spirit in the hard times we live in. All these twenty bands came from Europe, so I’m also sure our readers from North America might not be familiar with many of them.
Now, let’s enjoy some 2000s Euro hardcore music and get inspired!
Igniting a fire inside young people’s hearts since their formation in 1996, Endstand have been rated as one of the most important European hardcore bands up until their glorious departure in 2008.
For the time being the band from Riihimäki, Finland, released six full-length albums and an impressive number of EPs and split releases, including collaborations with some other bands on this list. Melodic hardcore can be tough to do right, but Endstand were one of the most passionate and technically prowess bands to ever come out of the old continent.
In 2000, singer Janne Tamminen started the iconic hardcore punk label Combat Rock Industry together with Jani Koskinen of Manifesto Jukebox. They also run the Combat Rock Shop in Helsinki.
2 Children of Fall
Rising from the ashes of many hardcore bands from the 90s era, Children of Fall were undoubtedly one of the most amazing European hardcore bands in the first decade of the new century.
Sworn in blood in anarchistic ideas—not as a rigid political ideology but as a beautiful ideal for freedom—and an urgent desire to vent their energy in the most creative way, Children of Fall have played 400+ DIY shows and released three incredible albums: Riding A Broken Vehicle (2000), Ignition For Poor Hearts (2002), and Bonjour Tristesse (2005). Their music was the perfect soundtrack to life for dreamers and hopeless romantics, for anarchist vagabonds and hardcore kids filled with purpose.
3 I Adapt
Hailing from Reykjavik, I Adapt were a furious hardcore punk band active between 2001 and 2008. Their sound was fist-pumpingly fast, melodic and energetic. Besides their self-released 2002 demo (listen below), the band released three albums, one EP and a split 7″ with The Neon Hookers.
Members of the band were also active in some other notable Icelandic hardcore and metal bands like Hriðjuverk, Plastic Gods, and Celestine.
4 New Winds
Lisbon Vegan Straight Edge outfit started as Força Interior in the mid 90s and released a demo under this name. The first New Winds records appeared in 1998 and were not far both lyrically and musically from other notable Portuguese straight edge bands like X-Acto and Sannyasin. They were quite okay, but far from groundbreaking.
However, the real game-changer came out in 2004 when Refuse Records released their seminal record A Spirit Filled Revolution, first on CD and in 2006 on vinyl. Tackling on various political subjects and being accompanied with a full 168-page book (not kidding!), this record took the melodic political hardcore on a whole new level.
Following the release, the band spent a massive amount of time educating the crowd at their various shows and festivals with tons of literature, zines and prolonged speeches between the songs. Generally well-received, but sometimes sparkling controversial debates on specific political topics, this record is already legendary!
Italian hardcore band Kafka was a real game-changer for me.
Active between 1994-2006, this band from the city of Genoa was totally dedicated to the DIY ethics, animal rights, social justice, and all facets of hardcore punk culture. Their music was a ripping hardcore with ruthless screams and a tremendous vent of righteous passion.
Being extremely lucky that bands such as Kafka were touring the right place at the right time, I found the overflowing energy and exciting ideas of DIY hardcore at young age. Thank you for that!
Hardcore is a genre often known for its consistency. It is a very rare occasion when new bands break through to reinvent themselves and offer an entirely new experience in each next release.
Copenhagen’s Lack are one such rare anomaly and probably one of the most unique bands to ever come out during the 2000s. When their first full-length Blues Moderne: Danois Explosifs appeared in 2001, it was a total rager. Take the political attitude of Refused’s The Shape of Punk…, mix it with the creativity of Botch, stir it up with a bit of the noise-rock wholesomeness of Sonic Youth, and you have a monumental record to be remembered long after it first appeared.
Lack’s stellar second album Be There Pulse (2005) pushed the boundaries of hardcore even more by drawing influences from Shellac, At The Drive-In, etc. It’s the record that I’ve listened to the most from their discography and continue to do to this day.
Followed by a bunch of 7″ releases, including one for the legendary US screamo label Level Plane, the band went full indie-rock on their final full-length Saturate Every Atom (2008); singing “Behead them screamo kids” and totally blowing my mind away with their incredible set at Fluff Fest in 2008.
The small country of Luxembourg isn’t the first place that comes to mind when you think about hardcore and punk. Coming from tiny Tétange, dEFDUMp was the hidden gem of the European hardcore scene that formed in 1994 and disbanded in 2008.
Echoing bands such as Refused and fitting in well with contemporary new-school turn in hardcore / metalcore during their active years, dEFDUMp have created a captivatingly melodic and chaotic style that wasn’t meant for the narrow-minded people within the hardcore punk community at the time. Some people didn’t get it at first, but for others it was a truly magnificent and game-changing band.
Lithuanian DIY hardcore scene was really diverse and interesting in the early 2000s. Hardcore band Bora from the capital Vilnius were among the most recognized acts from the Baltic country.
Formed in 1998 as Bramborak, they’ve hardened their original punkier sound and released the short Battery Cage record in 2001. Bora played passionate hardcore about animal rights and loose CrimethInc.-style anarchist politics that were so inspiring at the time. The record was followed by split tapes with Endstand and Poland’s Coalition in 2002, and finally Kablio Muzika and Unbeliever released their stellar full-length Spit Into Kismet’s Face in 2005.
The band remained active and released one final record before disbanding in 2009 playing their last show at Fluff Fest. I was there and it was great!
Formed in the Summer of 1997, Crowfish have gone a long way to become one of the most beloved Bulgarian bands of the 2000s and beyond.
In its early years the band was jamming punk-rock tunes in the veins of Rancid, Bad Religion and Green Day. Their first demo Unhappy Tales came out in 1998. A year late, in the Summer of 1999, they released a limited tape run of their first album From Crowfish to Revelation, which showed the great untapped potential of the band.
In 2002 the band released their seminal self-titled record through the German label Freecore Records. The record also featured the breakthrough single “Away”, which was featured in the Freemind Compilation (Freemind was a great hardcore punk festival in Varna, Bulgaria, also the hometown of Crowfish and birthplace of Bulgarian hardcore punk). Later on the official video aired on national TV channels. They also released a stellar split CD with fellow Bulgarian bands Plastic Bo, Maniacal Pictures, and Spot.
With the upcoming albums Requiem For A Broken Heart (2003) and IV (2008) the band was going more and more towards the emotional route and could be loosely compared to bands like Jimmy Eat World, Samiam, and Hot Water Music. The band also went on several German and Western European tours, which was a great achievement for a Bulgarian band in a time when you needed travel visas and a lot of money to even leave the country.
The Meleeh collective consisted of five individuals who breathed and lived (and still do) for making meaningful hardcore music and art.
Their heartfelt music with atmospheric build-ups and perfectly executed vocals had laid out foundation for a great Swedish scene to emerge in their lifetime between 2005 and 2010. In a way Meleeh’s music was similar to their screamo tour buddies Suis La Lune but at the same time felt more deeply rooted in the traditional hardcore punk sound and lyricism.
Apparently, members of Meleeh have also been involved in other notable bands like Crooked Letter, Keep Rising, Skåpmat, and the phenomenal post-rock band Scraps of Tape.
Abduktio were a hardcore punk band from Tampere, Finland.
Formed in 1998, they released two full-length albums and a number of EPs. Abduktio were a real touring machine, playing a total of almost 300 shows around Europe. Their music was a brooding melange of various genres and influences ranging from Bad Brains to JR Ewing, from The Clash to His Hero Is Gone; making them a breath of fresh air in a saturated hardcore scene.
Unfortunately, the band called it quits in December 2011 when guitarist Jukka Laajakallio passed away. Rest in power!
Quiritatio were a post-hardcore band from Sortland, Norway. I’m not sure exactly how long they’ve been active but their discography spans between 2004 and 2009.
I remember the band was recommended to me by an internet friend from Lithuania with whom we were talking over Skype about bands such as Catharsis, Requiem, and The Spectacle. Quiritatio’s music is, however, more eye-stingily emotional and romantic rather than an anarchist call-to-arms. Their demo CD was released in 2004, followed by the incredible Yana 7″ (2006) and the masterpiece Forgive And Forget (2006), which was indeed comparable to The Spectacle’s Rope or Guillotine (2004).
The final recording As The Dead March, Birds Will Fall From Heaven came out in 2009, I think it was only a digital release on mp3. Their swan song was also their most melodic and hopeful record.
13 Beyond The Fences
Hailing from Bodø in Norway, Beyond The Fences were a band that captivated so much of the energy and passion within a generation of kids for whom hardcore was a way of life.
Although they’ve released only a four-track EP in 2004 and the great No Ceiling In The Sky 10” in 2006, the band is surely a local legend that influenced so many other bands. BTF’s singer Kjetil was a tour drummer for Mount Eerie and was a part of the legendary CrimethInc. band The Spectacle.
The other three guys—Knut, Stian, and Thomas—played in the amazing band called Kollwitz among a few others.
Nikad were an emotional hardcore band from Croatia, and together with Analena—who were sharing members between Zagreb and Ljubljana—they were two of my absolutely favorite bands from that part of Europe.
If there’s a European band to come even close to the emotional charge of bands like Yaphet Kotto, Bread And Circuits, and the other Ebullition stuff, it’s definitely Nikad. Maybe Yage from Germany were also kind of similar but actually I’ve never listened to them as much as the more Eastern bands like Nikad.
It’s also funny that Nikad have uploaded their discography on Bandcamp just a few days ago, so it’s the perfect time to feature them in a publication. Totally recommended.
Lakmé were a short-lived but significant screamo band from Prague active between 2006 and 2009. Their music was heavily influenced by the 1990s French emo scene around Stonehenge Records and the political emotive hardcore of California’s label Ebullition.
Members of Lakmé were an unstoppable force within the Czech DIY scene—booking gigs, screen-printing second hand shirts & patches, and publishing the Revenge of the Nerds zine among many other things.
After disbanding, members went on to form bands like Gattaca, Remek, Dakhma, Marnost, etc.
16 The Sons of Saturn
The Sons of Saturn were a screamo band formed in Lyon, France around 2003. During their short career they’ve never become as famous as their fellow citizens Daïtro, but managed to tour extensively almost all of Europe in 2004.
In 2005, Morgan, the singer of the influential screamo band Gameness took the vocal duties and the band went on another tour to cover all the remaining countries they couldn’t visit the first time. They’ve rerecorded their Pure EP for the tours, played in Canada in 2006 and released their only full-length through the Russian label OSK Records.
Their music was a great mixture of the spastic creativity of Blood Brothers and various screamo influences ranging from Euro bands like La Quiete to Japan’s Envy. The band ceased to exist after their Summer tour in 2006.
17 The Now-Denial
“Too sweet to be punk, too punk to be hardcore, too hardcore to be crust, too cynical to be anything at all”, that’s how German five piece The Now-Denial self-described their style. The band formed in 2000 and shared members from the cities of Bremen, Bielefeld and Münster.
The band played an important role in the 2000s political hardcore scene in Europe and released a number of incredible records before disbanding in late 2010. Those include split EPs with iconic bands such as Highscore and Seein’ Red. Their style was clearly influenced by the classic Bremen hardcore sound but there was also so much more going on there.
In 2007 I interviewed their singer Soeren here at DIY Conspiracy, so please check them out!
Formed in 1998, Antimaniax were a four-piece from Graz, Austria, whose first full-length As Long as People Think (2002) catapulted them to a DIY fame across Europe. With over 100 shows all throughout the UK and Eastern Europe they were total fun to see live.
The band’s sound was influenced by the Crack Rock Steady-style of Chocking Victim, Leftöver Crack, and Morning Glory. The lyrics were usually tongue-in-cheek political commentaries but also with a serious emphasis on veganism and animal rights. The second album I’m Without Sleep… In This Desert of Concrete (2003) was followed by a US tour with no else but Leftöver Crack. Until the end of their career around 2006 Antimaniax became even more involved in animal rights benefits and campaigns.
Awesome band that will be remembered for their legacy when skacore was still a thing.
Update: Apparently, the band reunited in 2018 and still occasionally perform live!
19 Hundred Inch Shadow
Taking off where their old band Coalition have left, Hundred Inch Shadow was a short-lived band (2004-2007) from Warsaw, Poland.
In contrast to Coalition who were singing in Polish, all lyrics of Hundred Inch Shadow were in English. The sound also differed quite a bit yet they still followed the same melodic hardcore formula. Most importantly, they played with a true passion and meaning into their songs. All band members were following the straight edge lifestyle but that didn’t reflect the band’s lyrics and message in any way… or at least not in a direct sense. Hundred Inch Shadow was a personal experience.
Face the world with open eyes. Do the things that you have planned. Think, your life is not a race. You don’t have to live like anybody else.
—”The Purpose In Life”
20 Argument 5.45
The struggle was real to choose the last band on this list since there are so many other bands worth mentioning, especially from Eastern Europe. However, since a lot of other bands mentioned here are somehow connected with the Russian label Old Skool Kids Records, I decided to finish with a band from Moscow.
The first thing I’ve heard from this band was their 2004 split with the amazing Latvian band When My Authorities Fall. With lyrics in Russian and influences ranging from Botch to Mastodon and Fugazi, they were among the most interesting bands to come out from the Russian hardcore scene in the 2000s.
Argument 5.45 played shows with bands such as Against Me!, Converge, and The Chariot. Their first album Thousand of Birds (2006) was mixed by Kurt Ballou at Godcity Studios. Their last record Atavism (2011) was mixed by Matt Bayles in Seattle. Definitely a good band, go check them out!
The list could go on but it’s time to wrap it up.
Hope you’ve enjoyed!
P.S. Let me know if you find credits for the band photos used.