End of the year lists are awesome because they allow you to reflect upon what you really enjoyed throughout the year and what actually made impact on you. When we’re talking about straight edge records, there were times when it was a tough job to pick just a few from all the good stuff that has been released.
Lately, good and dedicated straight edge bands are not exactly scarcity, but I guess they just get lost in the vortex of new releases. Not to mention we see many studio projects, which are sometimes cool and funny, but not always feel like the right thing.
In this list you won’t find just LPs but 7″ releases as well, because sometimes one track is more powerful than a whole bunch of songs. Let’s see what straight edge hardcore we enjoyed in 2017.
#7 ECOSTRIKE – Time Is Now 7″
(Carry The Weight Records)
We have kept an eye on ECOSTRIKE since their 2016 debut and early this year they hit us hard once again. Epic vegan straight edge hardcore, great melodies and inspiring lyrics about everything you and me hate about the world. ECOSTRIKE features Lennon who you might remember from singing in Blistered, another fierce straight edge band to come out of Florida. So expect groovy metallic hardcore, lyrics suited for sing-alongs and filled in with the right messages. Quite an epic work for a 7″.
#6 Safe and Sound – Ashes Lie and Wait 7″
(New Age Records)
Safe and Sound have been around for longer, but I discovered them last year through their previous 7″ Embers Still Remain. This year’s Ashes Lie and Wait is shorter, darker and bitter. Production is raw and lo-fi. The vocals are filled with desperation and anger and the lyrics are challenging and deep. The 90s-influenced straight edge hardcore is alive and kicking, especially if you check out the bands in this list.
#5 Wake of Humanity – Grotesque Lie 7″
Wake of Humanity is one of the finest US vegan straight bands right now. Metallic chaos and determination clash in their music and the result is an explosive and honest take on vegan straight edge hardcore. I’ve recently read an interview with the guys for the super fine xclusivx fanzine and it’s great to see people actually working hard to achieve everything they’ve dedicated their music to, not just preaching for change. To be honest, I think Catalyst Records failed in promoting the record enough, because I don’t see it getting the recognition and hype it deserves.
#4 xServitudex – Path to Amnesty 7″
(Rage Records, Bound By Modern Age, Life.Lair.Regret)
Mitko reminded me about this seven inch maybe at least 10 times before I finally got to listen to it. If Safe and Sound sounded raw, I honestly don’t know what to say about the production of this UK straight edge menace. xServitudex indulge into severe vocals, primitive metallic sound and extensive lyrics digging deep in the subjects we all hold dear to our hearts. Their approach to writing is abstract and I love this. Straight edge anthems one after the other – groovy when needed, but always pissed off and extreme.
#3 xDevourx – Defiant Until The End LP
(Ugly and Proud Records)
Finally an LP in this list and without a doubt a total highlight for the year. xDevourx are hailing out of Belgium, feature members of another local SXE legend called Blade. This is their debut full-length and it’s released by Ugly and Proud Records. I had the chance to catch them live in November and if you think Arrogance, Defiant Until The End, Devoured or X On My Hands sound massive and meaningful on the vinyl, just wait until you experience them live. xDevourx will be touring the UK early next year and hopefully a bit more in Europe, definitely keep an eye on them. European straight edge hardcore needed that, because we let that German joke of a band shit on straight edge and political hardcore for way too long.
#2 Search For Purpose – More Than Us 7″
(Ugly and Proud Records)
Another 7″ and without a doubt the top discovery for the year. Melodic straight edge hardcore that spreads its message in a less hostile and militant way compared to pretty much all other bands in this list. Search For Purpose is both a tribute to the old-school and youth crew years of straight edge, but their sound is more refined, direct and punchy. The band started as a solo project, but as far as I know main guy Matt has managed to form a line up and are about to play live here and there. For all of you peeps in the States, we guarantee Search For Purpose are not to be missed.
#1 Spirits – Unrest LP
(State of Mind Recordings, Useless Pride Records, Here And Now)
NO SURPRISES HERE. Our (DIY Conspiracy) love for Spirits has never been a secret so it’s no wonder Unrest is our straight edge record of the year. Boston has long proven its THE place for straight edge bands and Spirits are once again doing what they started with the mighty Discontent. Every single bit in Unrest is catchy, honest and powerful. The melodies and energy in the LP give me the chills every single time I play it. The band have taken their sound to a next level working with Kurt Ballou at God City Studios. The artwork is outstanding and so are the lyrics for yet another time. Ever questioned your choice to remain sober for life? Give Unrest a listen and it will convince you we are on the right track… forever!
SECT – No Cure For Death LP
After the brutal debut of the vegan straight edge super group I was expecting a bomb from their new LP, especially having in mind they also recorded it with Kurt Ballou at God City. However, I still can’t really get used to the new LP and to the production they decided to go for. Music-wise it also sounds a bit too refined and controlled in comparison to the previous LP and there are certain rock references that I’m not so sure how I feel about. However, No Cure For Death deserves a place in this list because it’s an important album, from important musicians and I truly believe it will grow on me.
P.S. For all SXE kids!
Remember Ross Haenfler who wrote a book called Straight Edge: Hardcore Punk, Clean-Living Youth, and Social Change, published in 2006? Ross is still nailed to the X and in a process of writing a new book. One part of the project is a survey, sort of a straight edge “census” that you’re all invited to participate in. Questions include: What kinds of jobs do we do? How many of us are vegetarian or vegan? What is the average age of straight edge people? What bands have been most influential in our lives?
Find the survey here. Please take twenty minutes or so to complete it and spread the word with your straight edge and formerly edge friends.