A few humble writers’ opinions on the best sounds and compositions of the year.
Crystal Lake‘s new record True North instantly tops the must-have list for fans of all genres of heavy music. It’s got the instrumental complexity that metalheads love, hardcore heaviness (“Six Feet Under”), killer metalcore vocals, and even electronic and rap influences. OK, we know some of you instantly got scared at the mention of the “R-word”, but trust us, “Hatred” is one of the best songs on the album.
Hailing from Tokyo, Japan, Crystal Lake have made a name for themselves internationally with their first couple of records, and True North is going to push them over the edge. No matter how heavy they get, they are equal parts melodic and artistic, as exemplified by the title track on the new record. This is an example of a band whose cover art does their sound complete justice. Their most beautiful musical moments sound like watercolor brought to life.
If you don’t buy this album, you’re making bad choices with your life. It is nothing short of sensational.
If there is a reason you need to pay attention to local NJ hardcore it is the chaotic natural force that is Hell Mary. Their self-titled record claims 10 tracks, most of which never make it past the 2-minute mark. It’s classic, rage-fueled hardcore meets the eclecticism and speed of bands like Every Time I Die. And yet, you’ve most likely never heard of them unless you’re a Jersey local. They’re a gem very much kept under the dirt, and perhaps they like it that way, but you’re missing out if you haven’t had them tear your ears off and throw them underneath their drummer’s bass pedal. So do yourself a favor and give the record a listen and check out a live show whenever you get the chance.
RIYL: early-Paramore, PVRIS, Tonight Alive
If you’re the type of rocker who falls somewhere in between punk and dark pop then VISTA is a band for you. The female-fronted trio are stellar songwriters who know how to plant catchy hooks without succumbing to the sellout sound of radio rock. Each song on their latest EP Versus will have you raising your fist and yelling for more. Check out the EP on Spotify and be sure to support the band if you like what you hear! VISTA has a few upcoming tour dates which you can check out here.
Photo Credit: Holly Turner
This band’s wings may have been denied, but drummer Alec Kossof took them right back. How? Because he’s a professional acrobat. And no, we’re not making that up. But aside from that fun fact, Wings Denied is a need-to-know because their new EP Voyager is an excellent display of progressive metal. It’s got groove, it’s got melody, it’s got heaviness, and it dares to experiment. Want guitar solos? Right here. Want insane creativity? You got it. Voyager is a must have. Plus, they gave 10% of their physical pre-order money from this EP to benefit a seabird sanctuary. How fitting and how cute?
August 20th marks the date of the second HXC Mag house show series! That’s right, we’re turning our makeshift venue, The Albatross Den, into a full-fledged musical Mecca and now it’s time for our first round of band announcements. Say hello to Pulling Punches, Hollow Bones and To Live As Wolves! With more bands to come, stay on the lookout!
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In no particular order, here are the HXC Magazine staff’s favorite records from 2015!
2014 was a huge year for music. We saw the first time a band from the post-hardcore scene put on a music festival that was entirely in, of and for the scene with A Day To Remember’s Self Help Fest. We watched the aftermath of My Chemical Romance’s breakup dissolve into glorified solo projects. The Bury The Hatchet Tour finally happened, marking a long awaited resolution between Escape the Fate and Falling in Reverse. And hell, even Taylor Swift gets a shout out since more hardcore-influenced bands covered her songs than ever before. So the real question is: what were the best musical moments of the year? Check out our editors’ picks for the Top Albums of 2014 in no particular order and let us know what some of your favorites were!