It’s no longer “Best of…” season and this is exactly why we’re sharing our Top 7 Straight Edge records of 2020, so you can properly check them out.
To compile this ultimate 2020 sxe selection we reached out to our edge buddies from all around the globe. The result is below, so crank those speakers up and rest assured, it’s been another huge year for straight edge hardcore.
7 ECOSTRIKE – A Truth We Still Believe
(Triple B Records)
It’s really amazing that with turning four decades this year, straight edge is still a crucial stance in the hardcore movement. ECOSTRIKE proves this in the best way imaginable with their sophomore A Truth We Still Believe LP. This South Florida combo deliver 21 minutes of uncompromising heavy metallic, ’90s-influenced hardcore. Not unlike Unbroken, Strife, or even Buried Alive. The album is definitely not only one of the best straight edge records of 2020, but, I dare to say, one of the best hardcore albums of the recent years. Give it a spin!
“It’s more than words / It’s more than a symbol / It’s the oath / The oath that keeps me free / It’s the only thing we’ve got / It’s the only thing worth fighting for”
—Apostolis Mokas (World’s Appreciated Kitsch)
6 World of Pleasure – Demo / xDetestx – Demo
My two favorite straight edge releases from 2020 were the xDetestx and World of Pleasure’s demos. The World of Pleasure demo sounds modern and raw as fuck, plus they have the courage to yell “VEGAN STRAIGHT EDGE!” at the end, which blew my 2020 mind and almost made me crash my car when I heard it. Listening to the xDetestx demo brings me back to how I felt when I first heard Maroon’s Antagonist LP: hyped and ready for battle. It was nice in the mid-’00s to see metallic, political straight edge bands and xDetestx transports me back to that time. Can’t wait to injure myself and my friends when I see these bands someday.
—Dustin Hall (Power Alone)
5 Life Force – Hope and Defiance
(New Age Records)
Life Force released a BANGER of an album this year. Aesthetically the band centers around a youth crew revival style, but the music is so much more than that. It really sounds like Chain of Strength for the modern age. It’s got heavy down tuned guitars and excellent production that makes each song hit in a way that only modern hardcore can. It plays into the strengths of the new age of hardcore while still bringing back the energy and style that a lot of the scene is lacking these days. With some excellently written songs (“Out Front” being my favorite) and phenomenal lyricism, the band really came into their own on this one.
—Ewan Stein (Voice of Strength Zine)
4 Year of the Knife – Internal Incarceration
(Pure Noise Records)
For me, the clear AOTY for 2020 was Year of the Knife’s Internal Incarceration. This band brings an urgency and fury matched only by few others throughout the years. From start to finish, this album is a calculated, continuous sonic death march. Blistering, massive riffs that tread the line between furious metallic hardcore and maddening death metal. Matched with punishing drumming, the most ferocious bass tone imaginable, and a Tyler Mullen that has never been so clearly, brutally and angrily honest in delivering vocals that rip your soul apart. All of the above channelled through Kurt Ballou’s literally perfect engineering, create a result that is exactly and absolutely destructive. This full length is the embodiment of the state of the world, an unmatched and urgent sonic assault. This is the culmination of everything they have been working towards since their inception: A display of domination and brute force through straight edge viciousness.
—Mario Garofano (Malignant)
3 Rated X – United Front
“Straight edge is in the fucking toilet right now. It needs a good hard kick up the arse, and we’ve got the Jordans to do it”, said Sergeant X in his interview at DYKHC’s newsletter, and I’m damn sure you wouldn’t want to mess around with this dog! Straight-forward, punch-to-the-face, construction-gloves straight edge bringing back the times gone by (Ripcord, The Abused, SSD). Charged, X’d up to the bone and assertively bitter against the state of the scene today, United Front is an outright stomper front to back. “Rated X is absolutely reactionary. It’s a reaction to the state of straight edge hardcore, and the sound of hardcore today.” Nuff said.
—Mittens XVX (DIY Conspiracy)
2 Power Alone – Rather Be Alone
Vegan. Straight Edge. 3/4 Gather. I guess you get the picture. Power Alone released my favorite straight edge album of 2020. I’ve had the pleasure to play this for almost a year now since its release. Again and again, and, damn, it still hits so hard. Solid riffs, thoughtful lyrics—I’m already hyped! I’d rather be alone!
—Niki G. (Ugly And Proud Records)
1 Change – Closer Still
(Refuse Records / React! Records)
So many straight edge records are described as “sincere” but when you finally find one like the Closer Still LP that actually is, it stands out amongst everything else. And what makes a record sincere is that you feel while listening that it needed to be recorded. Not wanted, but needed. This is that rare record. Everything from the classic details of the layout to the impactful lyrics to the dynamic music (and the way all of it combines) screams of a passion for hardcore that is all too often played but not with this intentional energy and drive. Translation: definitely check this out!
—Greg Bennick (xBystanderx)
As always there are a lot of really young bands doing great work, and they definitely deserve some recognition.
Better Run – The Fight For Mother Earth
The young fellas from Vienna, Austria self-released their second EP The Fight For Mother Earth, and the title of the EP sums up their distaste of the ongoing war with nature which echoes deeply throughout the five songs. Wendi’s accent gives a unique and pissed off sound to the crushing, bouncy riffs. I’m a big fan of the familiar sound bites scattered throughout the EP. Youngblood of the year.
“Never stop learning, never stop loving”.
—Edwin (Straight Edge Interviews)
World of Pleasure and Better Run were also featured in our Edge Day 2020’s article about Straight Edge Demos of the year. So check this out, if you haven’t already!