One day, This Is Hardcore, one day...
At the end of March, This Is Hardcore's 2018 line-up was revealed, featuring headlining sets from genre-fusion lords E.Town Concrete, as well as veteran '90s acts Ten Yard Fight and One King Down. Beyond those three and one other yet-to-be-announced headliner, all of the usual suspects were present: Sick Of It All, Sworn Enemy, Wisdom In Chains; popular rising mid-tier bands like Incendiary and Knocked Loose; returning faves in the form of Jesus Piece and Vein; as well as some new blood with Year Of The Knife.
While I've never been to This Is Hardcore, I always love to see which bands are added to each year's instalment. Which is always followed up by my post-festival blues of waiting for all of Hate5Six's live footage to go up so I can check out what crazy shit and which killer performances I missed from the annual event. Sometimes discovering cool new bands in the process, which is always an added bonus.
Now, ever since the American hardcore punk institution's 2018 line-up was first announced, I’ve been thinking about which local Australian bands I would just love to personally see hit up the Philadelphia festival. Which all resulted in this here listicle (you’re welcome). Of course, this is all just wishful thinking on my part as the festival is so dominated by American groups and carries a vibe surrounding it that the only way to continually get on the bill is more of a “who-you-know” type situation than anything else. Nevertheless, here are my Antipodean picks for This Is Hardcore if I got my way with booking bands for Joe “Hardcore” McKay's baby. Again, it's all wishful thinking, but hey, a guy can dream!
Justice For The Damned:
Inarguably one of the biggest and most popular hardcore acts in Australia currently, Justice For The Damned’s noisy, wall-of-sound quality and death-metal influenced hardcore is something that'd set This Is Hardcore ablaze. With their blistering riffs, Boback Rafie's savage vocals and off the sheer strength of killer tracks like 'Please Don't Leave Me', 'It Will Always Be My Fault', 'Demon', 'Agony' and 'Deep Rotting Fear', they'd kill it. Plus, with how fucking heavy and abrasive JFTD's music and how bombastic their live shows are, it's those kinds of intense performances that often get the best reception from this festival's crowds; whether they're fully familiar with the band or not. So with how damn well these local guys are doing out here, and how they're now starting to branch out to other regions for touring, this one is more than feasible.
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This next band would easily be one of the heaviest bands of the entire bill if they were to ever hit up This Is Hardcore, and I feel that Honest Crooks would win over all of the old-school hardcore purists in attendance. What with the five-songs off new EP 'Suffer', their massive live sound, huge riffs, hectic breakdowns, solid work ethic, and their hellish deathcore/slam style mixed in with metalcore ideals and hardcore two-step sensibilities. Like, c’mon, we all know there's plenty of punters who attend TIH mainly just to check out some new bands and mosh out to any and every set they can. And an Honest Crooks showing would gladly give all of those folks and others the perfect time for that.
(Also, catch "Hellworth's Heaviest" on their final 'Suffer' headline date later this week).
Very similar to the inclusions of JFTD and Honest Crooks above, Perth's Unravel would stick out like a violent sore thumb on a stacked This Is Hardcore lineup. While they're a far more old-school death-metal-influenced riffs and vocals more than anything else, but with their faster rhythms, political themes, hardcore undertones and mostly shorter song lengths, there's plenty that the less extreme-focused ears out there can appreciate. And the WA outfit's wicked debut full-length 'Eras Of Forfeit' is the perfect example of that sound and execution, as tracks like 'Fostering The Festering Spawn', 'Vermakind', 'Reign Of Wasps' and more just being so brutal yet also so engaging - both live and on the record.
This Is Hardcore plays host to plenty of acts each year that have something important to say in their music and in their lyrics. Likewise, Outright HC (or just Outright) really do have something to say with their music, as clearly-outlined by 2014's mighty 'Avalanche' LP; a terrific hardcore record that will be finally followed-up in 2018 by a new album. This determined and outspoken Melbourne group - driven by the passionate vocals of frontwoman Jelena Goluza - wouldn't at all go amiss on a show like TIH, as the five-piece tackle topics of equal rights, sexual assault and misogyny, standing up for what's right, to facing death in every day life; bringing it all together with genuine rage and a hard-hitting hardcore sound. For as soon as they'd walk out to a kickass track like 'Troubled', they'd have all of the crowd in the palm of their hands.
Somebody please make this one fucking happen!
While they're definitely a more metalcore/beatdown inclined band than what you'd normally see on a TIH roster, Adelaide's Falcifer's have real potential to turn heads at such shows due to the high levels of seething aggression that drips from every lyric and riff. Fronted by ferocious vocalist Steph Marlow, Falcifer (no, not the shitty U.S. band Falsifier) are easily one of the better up and coming heavy bands Australia has to offer right now; just teetering on the cusp of blowing up.
After 2016's decent five-track EP, 'Theta', I just have a very good feeling that something really big is coming from this band sometime in 2018; something that should hopefully take them to that next level. And look, whether they reach outside of Australian borders or not, you would have to be utterly bananas to not pay attention from here onwards.
Of course, Perth's Bitter Taste aren't as well-known a band as some of the others found on this list, but as if that's ever meant some sort of drop off in quality tunes. (It hasn't). After releasing their surprisingly massive demo last year (sounds oxymoronic, yeah, but I dare you to listen to that three-track and tell me that it’s not huge), the band dropped a heavy hardcore bombshell with new single 'No Way Out'. Pulling nicely from the likes of Cursed Earth, Guilt Trip, Kublai Khan, Ill Natured - who I'll get to shortly - as well as Jesus Piece, Bitter Taste might be on a much lower local level than most but that doesn't mean that they don't crush it. Because they most certainly do!
Shut up and listen to them:
Out of all the band's mentioned here, and with the exception of Outright HC, the one other Aussie band that would sonically make the most sense to hit up the yearly U.S. hardcore festival is Melbourne crew, Crowned Kings. With Crowned Kings thrashy and straight up metallic hardcore material from 2016's 'Forked Road' album and this year's 'Sea Of Misery' LP being basically This Is Hardcore sound 101 for the most part.
Also, given the fact that New York hardcore legends Sick Of It All have made public many times over the years that they love Crowned Kings, maybe Lou Keller and the gang should put in a solid word to the TIH promoters to help get Makka, Bosty, and the rest of the CK boys overseas. Do it for the boys, SOIA.
Lastly, Ill Natured's locomotive and slow-bruising heavy hardcore sound may be somewhat repetitive on-record but hand this Newcastle group a good 20-25 minute set at This Is Hardcore, and their indomitable performance would steam-roll right through the venue's PA and stage. Especially when these guys are armed with mammoth tracks like 'Faced With Death' and 'The Hammer', amongst other cuts taken from 2018's 'Twisted Visions'. Not unlike fellow Australian hardcore bands like Relentless, Imprisoned, and Reactions (who were all on the shortlist for this article just so you know), Ill Natured's music is near-perfectly curated to gel with a show like TIH, so here's hoping!
Which other Australian bands would you like to see on This Is Hardcore? Let us know!
Honest Crooks live header photo credit: Dylan Martin.