When I say straight edge, it means so much more than just being drug-free. Still excited about hardcore punk music, I just can’t easily separate my commitment to this way of life from the whole subculture of straight edge and the sense of community that goes with it.
In the beginning of the year, we’ve been eager to share some of our favorite straight edge records of 2018, but there are so many other bands with sober minds and X’d up fists who are doing their best to be a voice of resistance in a time of mass self-destruction, or just enjoying themselves with pounding music for stagedives and singalongs.
In any case, it’s up to us—the straight edge kids—to talk about all the new and upcoming bands we’re excited about. So here is a list of fifteen up-and-coming (generally underrated) straight edge bands I’ve discovered recently. I’m sure you already know some of these, but also might have missed to check the others.
1 Rated X
From the ashes of Violent Reaction rise the stomping crew Rated X! This raging band from the UK plays an aggressive, uncompromising straight edge hardcore that reminds me of One Life Crew, X Chorus X, and Internal Affairs. Their demo tape was sold out in the blink of an eye, but they have a second run you shouldn’t miss.
The Polish straight edge scene never ceases to amaze me! Protein is a crucial band from the city of Krakow featuring members of Vicious X Reality and Radiance. They are all dedicated to bring the positive vibes of drug-free living. On their first demo tape, the band played the good old youth crew style, but with their latest EP on Refuse Records they’ve added some really neat melodic elements to their music. These guys play in bands, make zines, run Youth 2 Youth Records and book a lot of shows in their town.
3 ¡Tomar Control!
¡Tomar Control! is a straight edge band from Lima. We reviewed their debut full-length back in 2015, but now the four Peruvian girls are back with their brand new “Nunca más callar” LP. Honestly, it’s their best material to date. Still keeping their Positive Mental Attitude in check and belting out some high-octane youth-crew-goes-punk-rock rhythms with impeccable vocal delivery, this band is a great fun to listen to. And definitely a proof sxe hardcore is not just boys’ fun!
4 xOne Wordx
Tokyo Straight Edge band xOne Wordx is also not that new since they’ve released their kind of generic youth crew demo back in 2016. However, in 2018 they’ve come back with “We Wear X” EP and a big leap forward in their sound. Rife with idealism, this Japanese formation dropped some inspiring youth crew anthems about straight edge, vegetarianism, anti-racism and improving yourself as an individual. High fives!
Update: Unfortunately, the band have broken up due to some troubles within the scene.
Featuring members of Ecostrike, Drawing Last Breath and Sandman, this five-piece South Florida vegan straight edge outfit called Envision dropped their debut 7″ on Ugly & Proud Records last year. In this current configuration, these familiar faces play some lyrically challenging, no-nonsense hardcore with plenty of mid-paced, two-step mosh parts and a fair bit of melodic chills. A new LP is on its way we hear.
6 Life Force
Life Force is a straight-forward, straight edge and outpouring with intensity hardcore band based out of Norman, Oklahoma and Dallas, Texas. Their sole release to date is a demo with four whirling tracks, including a BOLD cover. The band channels their energy into creating an impactful straight edge hardcore with thoughtful lyrics and a sound that goes beyond your run-of-the-mill youth crew bandwagon.
7 Vital Force
Well, these youngsters have a very similar band name to Life Force, but they are leaning in a much more metallic direction than all the bands we’ve covered so far. Vital Force are based in the industrial town of Izhevsk in Russia, and they are strongly stepped into the militant vegan straight edge attitude and the metalcore sound of the nineties. Drawing influences from the likes of Green Rage, Raid and Abnegation, this is a band for those who would defend the Earth and all its non-human inhabitants by any means necessary.
8 With ✖️ War
For some bands, the lyrics and the message seem to be more important than the music itself. Portland, Oregon’s With War is one such band whose songs sound more like political manifestos than anything. Indigenous resistance, vegan straight edge, and the abolition of all forms of domination and oppression are the important themes they tackle on their demo.
With xCauterizex just releasing their demo, they are both the newest and hardest vegan straight edge band in the current iteration of PDX hardcore scene. Formed by people who are quite known within the vegan edge and activist community, they are already getting some traction. Read their interview with Animals Kingdom here and keep an eye on the band as they surely have some heavyweight XVX hardcore stuff in the works.
10 Crucial Measures
Crucial Measures formed in the beginning of 2017 in San Luis Obispo, CA. All band members met at the local university to make a statement against the staunch careerism and intoxication culture promoted by most of their peers. It’s fast and energetic hardcore pumped up with straight edge anthems to the top.
Madrid straight edge Impacto released two highly energetic demos in 2018. The band is standing on the harder side of the youth crew sound with fast breakdowns, raw vocals and in-your-face attitude. If you’re looking for something in the tradition of Brotherhood, Side By Side and Wide Awake, but with lyrics in Spanish, this might be right up your alley.
12 xRompe El Controlx
Their latest six-track EP released in January 2019 showcase Rompe El Control’s energetic take on youth crew and melodic hardcore. This band comes out of Monterrey, Mexico, and their songs are packed with upbeat tunes that follow in vibe and spirit the legacy of bands like Youth of Today, 7 Seconds, and Insted.
Ciclos 2019 demo shows a band with loads of energy and a message that’s more explicitly political than many of their youth crew contemporaries. The band from Concepción, Chile, throws in some churning fast verses and vigorous choruses, wrapped up with a strong message that includes lines such as “It’s time to eradicate racism, it’s time to eradicate fascism.”
From Point of No Return to Confronto, Brazilian vegan straight edge bands have been known for their punishing mix of hardcore and thrash. São Paulo’s Archote are no exception to the rule. Formed in 2018, this band plays a pure 90s style vegan edge metal that calls for the defence of all innocent life. The vegan revolution’s coming!
The last one is another new vegan straight edge sledgehammer in full swing that’s coming from South America. xDeclaraciónx was formed in November 2018 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. They play a straight up thrash metal with all songs revolving around the themes of animal liberation and veganism. It’s like Unborn singing some Vegan Reich lyrics in Spanish.