As we reach the end of the decade, it’s with hardcore in an astoundingly healthy place. Earlier in the decade it seems the genre hit something of a lull, but over the past few years (perhaps thanks to the way Turnstile jumped onto the scene and immediately went stratospheric) incredible hardcore bands have been popping up faster than you could yell a mosh call. The most exciting thing about this is how many of those bands – take Soul Glo, Firewalker, Truth Cult – are offering something more interesting than the formulaic template hardcore has mostly stuck to in the past.

Out of this crop of bands, Failed Entertainment has proved Fury a standout. It’s got eyes bigger than basements – not a requirement for a great album by any means, particularly not in hardcore, but it works to brilliant effect here. The riffs and roaring vocals feel huge already; coupled with the record’s polished yet no-nonsense production, it becomes monstrous. The songs are heavy yet layered with gleams of melody, a slick combination I’ve never heard pulled off so well.

What’s really interesting about this record is the lyrical territory into which it delves. There is none of the outward finger-pointing that is archetypical to hardcore; like the Revolution Summer bands that first looked beyond hardcore in the ‘80s, lyricist Jeremy Stith turns the pen towards self-examination. It mostly sees him striving for answers, searching for what it means to navigate this world and all of its grey areas. ‘A life’s work ahead of me / The evil and the good,’ he declares.  

The reason that all this makes Failed Entertainment my favourite album of the year is that I care very much about hardcore. It isn’t really even the genre that I listen to the most – scan over my end of year list and you’ll find mostly tasteful folk and indie, the type of records you could play to your parents and which they might enjoy. Yet more than any other, hardcore is the genre of music with which I define myself, and I’m sure that most hardcore lovers would tell you the same.

Take Minor Threat, one of the first hardcore bands I loved – the truest, purest, most vital outpouring of frustration with the world that I had heard then or since. Aged 15 was the perfect time to hear it, and it’s no wonder I fell in love with it, but what it exposed to me is what I still carry with me every time I hear a great hardcore record: hardcore matters because at its best it’s a vehicle for music untouched by anything but passion. Careerism and marketing barely scratch its sides; more than anything, it’s a genre that you have to really care about, to want to be a part of, to even enjoy. Of course it’s liable to be marred by violence, bigotry, scene politics, or simply by bands allowing it to become stale and formulaic; but when bands like Fury push it forward, it keeps it alive. Failed Entertainment is the sound of a band who dare to push the boundaries of hardcore precisely because they care about it too.

  1. Fury – Failed Entertainment
  2. Strange Ranger – Remembering the Rockets
  3. Friendship – Dreamin’
  4. Great Grandpa – Four of Arrows
  5. PUP – Morbid Stuff
  6. Field Medic – fade into the dawn 
  7. Better Oblivion Community Center – S/T
  8. Big Thief – U.F.O.F.
  9. Big Thief – Two Hands
  10. Oso Oso – basking in the glow