DIY Conspiracy
The (International) DIY Conspiracy

Jacopo’s Hardcore Punk Picks and Recommendations from 2018

Øjne's Jacopo Sanna picks his favorite hardcore punk and emo records of the year

Øjne’s “Prima Che Tutto Bruci” was definitely one of everyone’s favorite records of 2017. After publishing Guillaume’s article last year that we love so much, we’ll keep the tradition alive by asking Øjne’s highly knowledgeable drummer Jacopo to share his top-of-2018 list and recommendations. Here we go…

2018 was a great year for music. I listened to a lot of indie rock, Italian rap and trap, Balkan pop, even jazz, but eventually I always come back to my first love: hardcore punk, screamo, crust, emo, all of that.

I wouldn’t say this is a chart of my favorite albums of 2018—it’s getting harder and harder each year to process something like that. Think of it as a short list of rare gems and records you shouldn’t have missed this year.

International

Kaddish – What World Was Still?

What World Was Still?  by Kaddish was released the last day of November, but don’t use that as an excuse to keep it out of your end-of-the-year lists. The Scottish band’s new album doesn’t sound too different from their previous effort Thick Letters To Friends, released three years ago. That’s a good thing, ’cause their formula made of passionate, epic screamo with unique and intricate (but not twinkly) guitar riffs and arpeggios, is truly magic. Here, the guitar work is, if possible, even more captivating, and that’s enough to make What World Was Still?  the best screamo record of 2018: emotional, embracing and unpredictable.

Geraniüm – Fear is the enemy

I already knew Geraniüm wouldn’t disappoint, yet their latest full length Fear Is The Enemy is even better than I could guess. There’s everything you would expect from the Strasbourg-based crust heroes: a lot of rip-roaring d-beat, Ekkaia-style riffs, and a necessary dose of metal in all of its shapes—from black metal blast beats to steamrolling double-kick breakdowns. The second track alone, “Rotten Friendship”, contains more memorable riffs and tempo changes than one would usually find in a whole crust punk album.

Povodí Ohře – s/t

“Imagine you’re in a Czech town that looks like the set of an old Western movie, with dusty sun-drenched streets crossed by lonely tumbleweeds. You enter in a saloon and there’s a band preparing the stage: they play every night and get paid in alcohol and drugs.

As soon as their show starts, all of the introverted kids and drunk people of the town go wild and start smashing bottles to the ground and throwing tables in the air while dancing primitively.” That’s pretty much how I described Povodí Ohře to my friends at Fluff Fest, trying to convince them to check their set.

They’re one of the most exciting new bands in the Czech Republic and share some members with Esazlesa—yet they sound nothing like the Pilsen-based post-rock outfit. Povodí Ohře take ingredients from Americana, blues and folk and throw them into a cauldron to extract a sort of hallucinated and venomous country-punk potion.

Their live shows are incredible and their debut self-titled album is one of the best records of the year.

Crispy Newspaper – Судургу Тыллар

Over the past month I’ve been writing an article for Bandcamp Daily (it will be online in January) about the punk scene of Yakutsk, in North Eastern Russia, which is known to be the coldest city in the world—with temperatures that easily go down to -50°C / -58 Fahrenheit (and beyond) in winter.

Their local scene consists of a numerous and heterogeneous group of punk bands, and one of the most interesting ones is definitely Crispy Newspaper. Not only because their music is a fun brand of hypnotic, old-school punk, but also because they’re one of the few bands to sing in Sakha, the native language of the Yakutian region.

It’s a Turkic language written in Cyrillic script and spoken by less than 500,000 people, more intelligible by people speaking Turkish or other languages of Central Russia rather than by someone speaking Russian. It surprisingly sounds really really good on this type of music.

Italian Corner

Storm{O} – Ere

It was honestly a great year for Italian hardcore and screamo. Storm{O} released an incredible album titled Ere. It’s their best work for sure, and I have the feeling that it has been underrated a little so far. They managed to merge the Converge-sounding post-hardcore with more engaging and less math-like structures. Each song is full of raging crescendos, incredible drumming, part-claustrophobic part-cacophonous vocals and a flesh-ripping intensity.

Riviera – Contrasto

This year also saw the release of three great records from Romagna, the area where La Quiete and Raein came from. The first one is the new album by Riviera: they’re one of the most loved emo bands in Italy (“Camminare Sui Muri”, from their previous LP, is basically the perfect song to sing along to at a show). Their new record, Contrasto, has less memorable hooks but it’s more mature and coherent, with a great sound on top of that. Like an Italian, DIY version of Title Fight.

Contrasto – Politico Personale

From an album called Contrasto to a band called Contrasto. They’re a hardcore punk band from Cesena that has been active since 1996, and this year they have released a new record called Politico Personale. They play fast political hardcore with occasional reflective moments, and their new work is yet another example of how good and consistent they are—and also brought me back to my teen years. The 18 songs featured on the album are great antifascist anthems and odes to the armed struggle that feel like a breath of fresh air in these dark and dangerous times.

Lantern – Ancóra

The third record coming from Romagna is Ancòra by Lantern. I feel like not many people know them outside of Italy, but they’re one of the best screamo/emo acts of the country. The new album is a cascade of powerful and heartfelt Italian screamo mixed with spoken word, samples, anthemic clean vocals and Touché Amoré-sounding hooks. The last song is the most surprising one: an 8-minutes soft ballad with a saxophone and Brand New-esque vocals.

Skramz Splits

Radura / Flowers & Shelters

Radura from Sesto San Giovanni and Flowers & Shelters from Bolzano are two of the youngest bands to come out of the Italian screamo scene. Their split came out yesterday, and sees both bands sharing a great sense for melodies that has recently been quite rare to hear in worldwide screamo.

Radura mix the Italian and the Swedish traditions perfectly, with great Suis La Lune-like guitars, a tender passion that oozes from every single word each member of the trio screams and Neon Genesis Evangelion samples.

The side of Flowers & Shelters, from Bolzano, is just as great, and perfectly complementary: more violently emotional in a way, with rhythmical joints that are nothing short of exceptional for such a young screamo band. I might be biased, ’cause this year two members of Radura have been playing with my band for the live shows we did in Italy and Europe, but… is it just me or this is some of the best Italian screamo that came out in a while?

Ghost Spirit / Frail Hands

Another great split that came out this year is the one between Ghost Spirit from California and Frail Hands from Nova Scotia.

The side of Ghost Spirit is what actually reminded me of how great screamo can be. Everything is great on the six tracks of their side: the penetrating screams hustling over intense, schizophrenic drumming; the guitars that manage to remain poignant and melodic even at such unthinkable speeds; the delicate clean vocals that occasionally emerge from the band’s frantic patterns.

Frail Hands keep the same intensity, counterattacking with dissonant guitars, desperate vocals, furious blast beats and an overwhelming sense of tragedy, crafting a perfectly balanced and memorable split.

…And Everything Else

The new album by Birds In Row proves once again how good they are at writing music and at improving themselves. Other great records from France were that of Eux, which reminds me of Daïtro, and the black metal album of Ingrina.

In Greece, Chain Cult (dark, anthemic post-punk) and Σκοτοδίνη [Skotodini] (dark anarcho-punk sung in Greek) were great surprises.

In Spain, Rata Negra sounded pretty similar and just as good.

It was a great year also in the Czech Republic: Rutka Laskier, Zmar and nulajednanulanula released some great and original works in between screamo and black metal, while Nikander from Brno were my favorite sludge/doom discovery of the year.

Deszcz wrote a massive neo-crust album in Poland while Улыбайся Ветру did the same with screamo in Russia.

Though, my favorite screamo albums of the year after Kaddish were the ones by Cassus from the UK and Elle from the States (members of Beau Navire and I Wrote Haikus). Meanwhile, Kid, Feral from Sweden delivered some of the most original skramz riffs of the year.

The return of Racetraitor, one of the most controversial hardcore bands in America in the ’90s, is more than welcome, especially for the political situation the States and the whole world are living.

In Milan, Lucta released an amazing ’80s-sounding Italian record of the year, proving that, as Negazione used to say, “lo spirito continua”. The same applies for the debut of Idiota Civilizzato and for the split between Astio (post-punk) and Impulso (raw punk), both from Trento.

The self-titled by Hank Wood and The Hammerheads is one of the best garage punk albums I heard in a while. Self Defense Family also released their best full length yet (“Have You Considered Punk Music” and “Have You Considered Anything Else” are this year’s best musical diptych).

Gulfer brought me back to 2014 emo revival. Three of my favorite bands, Wild Animals, Svalbard and Locktender all released new amazing albums, though I might still prefer their older material.

More mainstream stuff: Camp Cope wrote one of the most relevant records of the year; IDLES ruled; Snail Mail wins; Typhoon were an immense surprise; Fucked Up are still fun.

And then, well, then there’s all the great records I forgot about.

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