Hello, and welcome to another post about The Straight Edge!
This time around I missed my deadline to write a piece for this year’s Edge Day by a full week. Despite this, my edge is as strong as ever and I’m still finding solace in a subculture based around personal values of sobriety while making a positive social impact in an otherwise f-ed up world.
For most of the past 40 years, straight edge bands have come and gone, many leaving a huge impact on those who have been reached by their music and found something in their message that strikes a personal note. While most of these bands have sold out a long time ago, some remain true to this day.
This post, however, is not about the ‘good old days’, and neither does it pretend to be about any ‘best of’ list or favorite bands of the year (ed. 2021—now we have it here) It’s just that I know many have been largely out of the loop in 2020, and it’s kind of my personal responsibility—as someone constantly digging around looking for new artists—to write about the demo tapes, the lesser known bands, and the records that usually fly under the radar of most hardcore punk publications.
So here’s my latest list of straight edge hardcore bands that have released demos and promo material during the time when there were basically no record release shows or even the slightest opportunity to play in front of a larger crowd.
In my last year’s article similar to this one, I mentioned how good the Polish scene has been in recent time. This year’s The Things I Cannot Hide EP by Protein was a fine example of bomb, energetic youth crew hardcore. Now I’m even more excited to hear the brand new project involving the same people behind Youth2Youth record label plus some of the best current straight edge bands in Poland.
CARE is a long-distance project that has been in the works for quite some time. This demo is only five minutes long but doesn’t lack substance and it’s a prime example of straightforward youth crew hardcore played from the heart. The great artwork and energetic sound of this band remind of Mindset, Praise, Peace, etc. Great stuff!
2 World of Pleasure
Composed of Mortality Rate’s singer Jess Nyx and Colter of straight edge metal force Serration, this three-song demo is an absolute punisher.
Those heavy riffs and monstrous breakdowns make you want to annihilate everything in sight, while Jess’ vocals sound like she eats glass and fasteners for lunch every day. Her vocal delivery is as brutal as it gets, and they are not fucking around with the lyrics either.
“It’s time for your extermination! Vegan domination! Vegan straight edge for fucking ever!“
3 Last Straw
Not to be confused with the early ’00s Belgian straight edge band with the same name, this Connecticut youth crew comes ripping through with their classic take on the raw, snotty hardcore sound.
Comprised of scene stalwarts from bands such as Anxious and One Step Closer, this band should definitely be on anyone’s straight edge list. I’d have to say One Step Closer are among my favorite melodic hardcore bands for quite some time now, so that’s a good enough reason to check this band out. Last Straw’s sound, however, is meaner, faster and old-school in nature.
There’s a wide swath of references that could be made here but I’ll leave it to you to check this band out.
4 Urban Void
Urban Void is a ripping new long-range project featuring some serious hardcore figureheads from Germany and the States. The three individuals behind this veteran hardcore force are namely Sebastian Stronzik (SFR Records, Mind Trap, Highscore, Short Fuse, among others), Jeremy Evans (WarXGames, Wall Breaker, Coke Bust) on bass, and drummer Tim Corleone (Chronic Abuse, Short Fuse).
Unfortunately, Urban Void is not a “real” band as they never really got together as a band (even before the COVID-19 lockdown) but each one involved is working on it separately. If you’re looking for a real “active” band in the veins of UV, check out Seb’s straight edge band The Fog. Their second EP Into The Fog came out recently through SFR and Refuse Records.
5 Stand Alone
Syracuse, NY is the birthplace of one of the most influential straight edge bands of all time, Earth Crisis. Without a doubt this led to the birth of many significant ’90s bands in the area, and Stand Alone is among the newest bands to rep the 315 straight edge pride on their sleeves.
Formed in 2019 by ex-members of Selective Aggression and Edge Control, they shortly released two demos that showed a lot of potential, but it’s this year’s Whatever It Takes demo that truly showcased how good that band is. If you love modern bands in the tradition of Carry On and American Nightmare that also have the groove-laden riffs and hard-hitting breakdowns in the typical Syracuse fashion, you won’t be disappointed by these guys.
The straight edge hype is real here. Hailing from Arizona, Incentive is one of the most dedicated young straight edge bands right now.
It takes a single listen of their Forged Through Passion demo in the bandcamp player below to notice these impassioned vocals and divebombs that sound just like the bands you used to go nuts for back in the day. The uncompromising 90s-influenced straight edge hardcore is alive and kicking in this one.
When it comes to Triple B, disappointment is not on the table. They’ve always put out great releases and FYZICAL is among the most mysterious ones on their catalog.
According to the label, this new band is straight edge to the bone and divided between NYC and Omaha, Nebraska, featuring a whole cast of characters from bands we know and love. The songs are all raw sounding, heavy and uncompromising hardcore bangers. Only 50 copies of this demo tape came out of Triple B’s oven!
8 Iron Deficiency
Based on my observations of social media, there’s a real straight edge resurgence in France. Iron Deficiency is a young band from Lyon playing some groove-heavy metallic hardcore that reminds me of those chugging vegan edge bands you find on xCatalystx Records.
Clearly, the intent of forming Iron Deficiency was to pay homage to a very specific era and ideas behind this kind of music, and so far they are doing a great job.
9 xBreak Outx
Another young straight edge band from Lyon, France. Its fast, Youth of Today/Floorpunch-inspired hardcore filled with so much energy and enthusiasm there’s hardly any room for anything else. The youth crew spirit is really strong with this one.
10 Guerra Interna
Hailing from the town of Cardona in the province of Barcelona, this Catalan band delivers a raw and primitive strain of hardcore punk to show that straight edge is not a trademark for neither metal, nor clean-cut youth crew bands.
Influenced by a wide range of UK82, Oi! and ’80s Spanish or Catalan hardcore punk bands, this demo bears a kind of sound that is not achieved by accident. It’s very different from most of the other bands on this list, but I’m always pleased to see when such raw hardcore and punk bands adopt the drug free lifestyle.
Another band from Barcelona I guess (based on their label.) Five songs of youth crew-inspired hardcore packed with nice melodic hooks, angry vocals in Spanish and a strong punk-rock vibe. It’s not as fast or energetic as I would have liked, but it’s still an interesting record.
12 True Fight
True Fight is a straight edge band from the Ibaraki Prefecture, located in the Kantō region of Honshu, Japan. It’s been always interesting to me how Japanese straight edge bands manage to represent the classic Youth Crew style with such a great precision—down to the very last detail (the same goes for other genres, too!)
I’m definitely not a fan of bands who base their entire sound, outlook and artwork on an era of hardcore, but damn Japanese really know how to make it work and still sound better than most of the European or North American bands who desperately try to do the same.
Now, let me introduce you to xRisalex!
This project comes from the megapolis of Istanbul, Turkey, and pays homage to the ’90s hardcore / vegan edge scene. Risale’s four-track demo was released just a while ago from Wretched Records and brings to mind strong influences from Green Rage, Birthright, Chokehold, and Morning Again.
Besides being the mastermind and starting the band as a one-man project, the young Ozan is also involved in the first of its kind Turkish vegan straight zine called İç Savaş.
14 Better Run
This young vegan straight edge quintet is based in Vienna, Austria. With energetic breakdowns, gang vocals and lyrics about standing together—side by side, of course—there’s nothing about their message, songwriting or performance style that tries to rewrite the SXE hardcore playbook, but they do it confidently and from the heart, and that’s what counts at the end of the day.
Combining hook-filled melodies and a passionate vocal approach—all lyrics in Russian—with moshing NYHC influences and a strong youth crew revival vibe of bands like Battery, Carry On, and In My Eyes, Moscow’s BIGxFOOT offer some new take on the well-known style. It sounds good both in terms of musicianship and production-wise.
If you know about the past and current straight edge scene in this vast territory, don’t hesitate to get in touch and tell us about it.