What a great year for records! Hardcore and punk are thriving worldwide. Toronto hosted 3 very impressive fests showing how wild and booming hardcore is here now: 11PM Eternal, New Friends Fest, and Hold Your Ground II all had impressive lineups and enthusiastic turnouts. Emissions celebrated our 1yr anniversary in the summer with really fun events like the Punk The Capital screening, the classic Canadian punk photo and flyer exhibition, and a show with Home Front and Poison Ruïn. We co-presented a summer series of punk documentary screenings at Hot Docs Cinema too. No signs of slowing down as we have more screenings, shows, and other cool events in the works that we’ll start telling you about really soon. Thanks for supporting us through another year. My picks below for the best of 2023 are what kept me motivated through the year. Check them out.
Best New 12-Inches
Stigmatism - Ignorance In Power (Toxic State/Static Shock)
- Hadn’t heard from them for awhile then they burst back into the spotlight with this great hardcore LP
Home Front - Games of Power (La Vida Es Un Mus)
- Our best selling new release of the year and one of my favourites. I love live shows with mixed bills, and this band seems to cover multiple genres all by themselves. Fans of Oi, post-punk, goth bands and hardcore all come to the shop to clear out our stock of this every time we get more.
Malcria - Fantasías Histéricas (Iron Lung)
- Malaria’s LP just squeezed into 2023 with a December 29th release date so expect it to end up on lists from people next year too. Tight, angry, aggressive harcore punk from Mexico.
Rat Cage - Savage Visions (La Vida Es Un Mus)
- Punk as fuck. Hardcore as fuck. Great riffs with strong vocals.
Crow - Eye (Prank)
- My favourite band from Japan released a 12” EP and helped get Prank Records to release new material after 10 years of represses or inactivity. Welcome back Prank!
Planet On A Chain - Boxed In (Revelation)
- POAC features the singer of Tear It Up sounding angrier than ever over tight fast hardcore riffs. I liked it from the start, but it kept growing on me until I liked it even more.
Imploders - self-titled (Neon Taste/Static Shock)
- Toronto’s new wave of snotty hardcore! Great riffs. Awesome live band. World class punk.
Death Ridge Boys - Too Much Bullshit (TKO)
- Death Ridge Boys jump to a bigger label to release their third 12-inch after two 7-inches and a split. These guys have been playing in a lot of your favourite Portland and Nashville crusty hardcore bands since the 90s, and now their doing hardcore-influenced Oi. If that makes you think of Criminal Damage then you’re on the right track and your bound to like both bands if you like one of them.
Restraining Order - Locked In Time (Triple B)
- Fast. Hardcore. Breakdowns. Go!
Poison Ruïn - Harvest (Relapse)
- Hard-to-classify Poison Ruïn are hard to picture fitting in on any label, but Relapse was especially surprising. They played it well and put out an incredible post-punk crust noise hc whatever full-length that shouldn’t be missed.
Syndrome 81 - Prisons Imaginaires : Inédits, Démos Et Prises Alternatives (Destructure)
- This bonus material from 2022 got it’s own proper release in 2023 by the best post-oi band around.
The Hell - self-titled (Not For The Weak)
- Gritty, straight forward fast hardcore.
Best New 7-Inches and Tapes
Minor Threat - Out of Step Outtakes (Dischord)
- “There’s no place like home, so where….. Am I?”
Lethal - Lethal’s Hardcore Hit Parade (11PM)
- If ‘82 NYHC tried to sound like Discharge. Five songs that hit really hard.
Klonns - Crow (Iron Lung)
- Looks like Klonns had 6 releases (3 self-released) before Iron Lung helped spread them deeper outside of Japan. They use those mid-tempo repetitive hard riffs like S.H.I.T. or Destino Finale but with more of Bastard feel.
Mentalité 81 - Generation Sacrifée (Extinction Burst)
- Like Syndrome 81 but mostly like hardcore? This is the singer and guitar player from Syndrome 81 playing more HC influenced Oi. I grabbed the now sold out tape, and only now found out there was a 7inch that also sold out.
Grand Scheme - Numbers Game (11PM)
- Straight-forward old-fashioned hardcore but faster with hard breakdowns. I hope they put out a ton of 7-inches and nothing else.
People’s Temple - I’m With The People's Temple (Roachleg)
- This sounds like a lost 80s masterpiece, like if early Huntington Beach band members moved to New Jersey and recorded something for Mutha Records.
Puffer - self-titled (Roachleg)
- This Montreal band keeps getting better and better live, and their recordings are matching pace.
Annihilation Time - Bad Reputation 12” (w/ radio set) (Annihilate)
- Take the incredible Bad Reputation 7” on one side, then add a quality radio set on side B that appears for the first time on vinyl. Annihilation Time are one of the best bands (especially live) from the 2000s.
Action Patrol - On Patrol 1993-1996 (Bitter Melody)
- This band was revered in Virginia but not sure they enjoyed much recognition here in Canada. They deserved it. Another form of this originally came out as a discography CD in 1997, but this is the first time these songs have been collected like this on one vinyl release. Crank the snottiness, energy, melody and hardcore all up to 11 and you have Action Patrol.
Misfits - Studio Outtakes 1978 to 1979 (Unofficial)
- It's hard to believe that these tracks were never leaked before. It’s all studio outtakes of 70s Misfits songs that breath new life into a band that you’ve heard a million times before.
Glenn Danzig - Who Killed Marilyn picture 12” (Cleopatra)
- I’m a sucker for picture discs of images with iconic status in the punk world. Besides, it’s been too long without an official pressing.
SSD - The Kids Will Have Their Say (Trust)
- It’s about time.
Quicksand - Slip (deluxe w/ book) (Iodine)
- Like it or not, Quicksand massively changed the progression of hardcore through the 90s and beyond, not to mention their impact on metal, nu-metal and more. Nobody else did it quick like them though. This package includes a big book to round things out because they deserve it.
Youth Youth Youth - Sin (Blue Fog)
- Toronto hardcore pioneers who are still really important to the scene. This reissue has the Sin songs on side A along with (all?) the other stuff on side B. If you have an original Sin that’s not good enough because this has more songs and sounds better.
I must have forgotten something or have yet to discover something that deserves to be on this list. Never stop digging for new music.