As maniacally crushing and painstakingly desperate as this record can be, Xerxes’ debut LP is memorable not only for how it displays the emotion of its performers, but also how it demands our attention in the process. Beautiful and brash in swings of frantic hardcore, this album cements that the future of this band is even more bright than its precursor releases would suggest.
4. Suis La Lune – Riala
For as much attention as No Sleep Records gets, and will continue to get, Topshelf Records has quickly proven their ability to be right on par with them in terms of releases. I had never heard of Suis La Lune before hearing this jarring clash of guitar wizardry and post-hardcore songwriting, but Riala is moving and challenging through its swerves of confidence and courageous risk taking. They might not be the catchiest or the most accessible band of the bunch, but damn was this record tough to put down after you gave it the attention it deserved.
As much as the closing chapter in the Parallax saga could be described as only a slight jaunt from the technical pushing Between the Buried and Me has done over the past few albums, there are times when even a suggested monotony is broken up by purely strange, yet gripping moments of musical wonder. Yet even as the band pushes in new ways, they remind us why we found such joy in something so complex in the first place. Parallax II does both without feeling forced or flawed in the creation process – leaving us with one of their finest pieces of work to date.
2. No Trigger – Tycoon
Another band that took me by surprise, No Trigger struck a chord in my punk-influenced roots with a hint of passion to boot. Tycoon takes a little bit of what makes A Wilhelm Scream great and takes away a bit of the technicality while leaving the energetic songwriting intact. With all of the angst-ridden pop-punk being polished to the point that it has lost a bit of its flair, Tycoon has an edge that hardcore-influenced pop-punk bands try to harness but seemingly can’t without resorting to cliches in the process.
Coming into this year, this was my most anticipated record. And to be fair, I had my moments of doubt that this would live up to the hype I had given it. This is a record to remember though, for all of the variety, bridled intensity and gripping songwriting that it brings by way of hardcore and a number of intensified variations. Adding in some grim, yet stirring slower songs makes this album a well-paced and balanced procession of emotion and musicianship. To be blunt – I was certainly not disappointed.
Top 5 EPs
Favorite Live Show – Converge/Torche/Kvelertak/Nice Hooves – October 16th @ Magic Stick in Detroit, MI
Biggest Surprise – No Trigger
Biggest Disappointment – Say Anything
Most Anticipated – A Wilhelm Scream, Protest the Hero, Circle Takes the Square