Hardcore has been the beating heart of underground music since the 1980s. With the hardcore scene holding strong as ever thanks to bands like Knocked Loose and Harm’s Way, it’s a perfect time to delve into some other some underrated gems.

We did our best to include both the sleeping giants and rising stars of hardcore, so support these acts however you can, even if it’s just checking out their killer works!

So much current hardcore can be traced back to the style of Snapcase. The grooves are so fucking strong on the band’s 1997 album, Progression Through Unlearning, thanks in part to the ferocious drumming of Timothy Redmond. It’s an absolute perfection of style and substance. If you need an album to teach you how to be harder than life, this one is must-listen. 

How’s this band not as big as Nails? Sweden’s God Mother have been crushing underground circles for over a decade, outperforming just about every band that dares to go on before or after them. The energy on the band’s debut, Maktbehov, is off the charts, but God Mother haven’t slipped in quality one bit. Make sure you check out Vilseledd and their 2022 Obeveklig EP too. 

Bridgeport, Connecticut is famously the home of Hatebreed, but the Park City also birthed local legends Signs of Hope. It’s tough to state how important this band was in the mid-to-late 2000s — they were the standard for the straight edge scene, varsity font and all. The band’s sole album clocks in at under 16 minutes, but the sheer quality makes it feel twice as long. Blast this one.

Let’s take a trip into the Swedish D-beat scene. Led by At the GatesTomas Lindberg, Gothenburg’s Skitsystem put out nothing but fire from 1994-2004, but it was after Lindberg left that Skitsystem put out arguably their best work, Stigmata. This crusty masterpiece is just pure violence and step-and-a-half chord progressions for 33 straight minutes. Disfear is amazing, but Skitsystem is king. 

Judiciary is the most underrated hardcore band in the game right now. The Texas act’s 2023 album, Flesh + Blood, was serious AOTY material, but flew further under the radar than it should have. It’s not too late to appreciate the Gojira-laced beatdowns these boys are serving, though. Just listen to the top-notch production on this beast. Consider our faces melted. 

Don’t tell me you forgot about Krishnacore! 108 feels like one of those hardcore bands that’s universally seen as important, but just doesn’t get the outward praise of an Agnostic Front or a Madball. Regardless, Threefold Misery the most spiritually heavy beatdown you’ll ever experience, delivering the best qualities of NYHC while giving you some serious existentialism to meditate on.

If you’ve got equal love for traditional hardcore and hardcore punk, you’ve probably got a Bridge Nine poster somewhere on your wall. The transcendent label put out AmbitionsStranger in 2007, a fiercely underrated record that blends Bane with Dag Nasty. These guys did some brilliant melodic work while keeping their music steeped in hardcore tradition.

It should be echoed into eternity how unbelievable Makh Daniels was as a vocalist. His barking was a force of nature, somehow overpowering all his bandmates while cutting straight through the mix. Goner is Early Graves‘ most celebrated album, but it’s clear that We: the Guillotine put them in a position to receive the spotlight they earned. This whole record is punchy, provocative and expertly crafted violence.

Did you know Dan Swanö produced straight-up hardcore records? No wonder 59 Times the Pain’s More Out of Today hits so damn hard. Just listen to the guitar tone on “Join the Army.” Hot damn, Swanö knows how to bring out the best in any band he works with. 59 Times the Pain really knew how to do PMA — the good vibes are always on display even during the politically charged anthems. This is truly some “ain’t broke so don’t fix it” music.

Let’s give a shout-out to one of the most promising new hardcore bands — Anklebiter. The band’s 2023 To Live and Withstand EP is pure Zeitgeist, blasting massive energy into the current scene. The sonic chemistry between vocalist Rachael Braverman and drummer Nick Birtles is absolutely frenetic, while the guitar and bass work of Evan Stein and Logan St. Germain is just so fucking alive. Keep an eye on this band.

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