Like SPEED? Welcome To The World Of Australian Hardcore
With the airhorn heard ’round the world, SPEED became the first viral commodity of Australian hardcore thanks to their action-packed music video for ‘We See U’. World tours, insane crowd reactions and meet-and-greets with Shaquille O’Neal ensued, leaving local fans of heavy music punching the air and normies in Instagram comments sections clutching their proverbial handbags.
SPEED’s reach has become so far and wide, they’ve now introduced many into the scene and the genre on the Australian front. The SPEED effect is particularly strong for those who came of age during the pandemic and are finally experiencing shows properly in a post-lockdown framework. Normally, this is where gatekeepers would come in and grumble about newcomers – but frankly, you can leave that shit in 2008 where it belongs.
There has never been a more exciting time to get into hardcore. There are excellent bands channeling all different aspects of the genre everywhere, ranging from grizzled veterans to bands with only a single-digit number of songs. So, if you’re here because of SPEED (and especially if you’re headed to their sold-out Back On The Map mini-festival next weekend), allow this to be a quick crash course in 20 other exceptional Aussie bands to get moshing to.
Blind Girls – Brisbane
Banshee shrieks, blast beats and blistering brutality – and that’s just the first verse. Blind Girls have built a dedicated following over the last half-decade, with last year’s crushing 20-minute LP The Weight of Everything achieving cult status amongst international audiences. For those seeking emotional, as well as musical, heaviness.
Born Free – Melbourne
If their black shirts with white block text reading “BORN FREE YOU FUCKIN’ FUCK” didn’t give it away, this staunch five-piece come at things with all the subtlety of a swinging hammer. Their pit-starting riffs blend both harsh barks and alt-metal styled clean vocals at the forefront. Fucking fuck yeah.
Burn in Hell – Sydney
A crushing, metallic beast of a band that has only gone from strength to strength since their late-2010s formation. Picture Converge at their most furious meets Nails at their regular level of fury. Come for the unapologetic left-wing politics, stay for the fact they have two bass players just because.
Cherish – Sydney
A modern embrace of vintage counter-culture, Cherish are a queer straight-edge band that come armed with zines, rhinestones and the truth. If you were ready for G.L.O.S.S. to take over the world prior to their untimely demise, allow this outspoken outfit to lead the way. Make punk rock gay again.
Crave Death – Brisbane
The pandemic nearly swallowed Crave Death whole, but they’ve re-emerged with a recalibrated focus and their best material to date. March’s Die Slow EP is a scorched-earth saga of pummeling drums, dissonant guitar churn and vocals direct from the gut. Best part? It feels like they’re just getting started.
Diploid – Melbourne
A staple of noisy gigs across Australia over the 2010s, Diploid are for those seeking hardcore from a more artisanal framework. It’s still loud and brutal, of course, but wholly unconventional. Even so, they made a fan out of Anthony Fantano – and it’s notoriously difficult to impress Mr. Light 6.
Downside – Newcastle
Veterans of Newcastle’s hardcore scene, aka NCHC (shout-out Safe Hands and Coma Lies), Downside delivered their long-awaited debut album just last week after over a decade in the game. Spoiler alert: It was more than worth the wait. Exceptional drop-D riffs with car-crash breakdowns and two-stepping aplenty is their business, and business is good.
Extortion – Melbourne via Perth
Last year, these grindcore veterans returned out of nowhere with their first album in 12 years – an album so fast, the whole thing fits on a 7-inch. Now back playing sold-out shows, including Dark Mofo next month, their legacy as one of the scene’s most influential bands is tangible again.
Geld – Melbourne
Unlike many hardcore bands with a focus on more of a metallic sound, Geld very much draw from the genre’s punk roots: Belligerent, churning, noisy and unrepentant in nature. Recent signees to veteran heavy label Relapse, their forthcoming third album is soon to fuck shit up. You have been warned.
Hacker – Melbourne
There’s a Spotify playlist Hacker are on literally titled “Melbourne music to kick someone in the face to”. It might be the most apt playlist going. Indeed, Hacker stick the boot in with their ugly, thrashy throwback style. Give them 10 minutes and you’ll be feeling the effects for days.
Half Man – Brisbane
This brutal Queensland-based sort-of-supergroup literally made their debut only a matter of weeks ago. The fact they made the list already is indicative of not only how exciting their killer EP is, but also that there’s fresh new talent arriving frequently. Australian hardcore does not do things by halves, folks.
Histamine – Sydney
Histamine make music with a stomp in its step. The kind that could probably put a hole in the floor if you pushed it hard enough. In the last six months, they’ve played Sydney Festival and opened for Show Me The Body and One Step Closer. Can’t stop, won’t stop.
J.O.Y. – Sydney
Short for Joke’s On You, J.O.Y. are an old-school hardcore band that bring D-beats and dive-bombs to the mix of their raw, relentless sound. The band were also the opening act at last year’s Back On The Map, going to show you should always arrive early. Today’s openers are tomorrow’s headliners, after all.
Nerve Damage – Brisbane
Nerve Damage’s bio is three words long: “Upset their peace.” Since their mid-2010s formation, they’ve only doubled down. Lead by the righteous fury of Yugambeh/Bundjalung man Shal Allen, their discography ranges from protest marches to beatdown riffs to noise wig-outs and back again. Consider the peace well and truly upset.
No Brainer – Perth
You know you’re making some considerable noise when you can be heard from all the way over in the world’s most isolated city. No Brainer don’t have any real catch or gimmick, and that’s honestly part of the appeal – they get in, get out and get the job done.
Outright – Melbourne
When Outright arrived in the early 2010s, they stated their intentions from their very first song: “Gotta be the change I want to see”. They’ve stayed true across two exceptional albums, confronting major societal issues head on and throwing all opposed into the grinder of thrashing riffs and defiant delivery.
Persecutor – Melbourne
No-one is safe on Babylon’s Ashes, Persecutor’s caustic 10-minute debut album, which takes an axe to the mantles of white supremacy and the constant atrocities committed by those in power. After being halted by the pandemic, the band finally played their first show in 2022 and haven’t looked back since.
Primitive Blast – Sydney
If you really want to see Sydney hardcore come alive, get to a Primitive Blast show post-haste. Shit goes down when PrimBlast bust it, and it’s easy to see why – they’re the kind of band that serves as a reminder of why you loved the genre to begin with.
Terminal Sleep – Melbourne
Despite being together just over a year, Terminal Sleep have already gone global thanks to a viral Instagram reel and love from both Trivium’s Matt Heafy and the aforementioned Anthony Fantano. Their second EP is fresh out the oven, and they’re well and truly keeping the metalcore fire burning.
Volatile Ways – Newcastle
You know how Future Islands is the drama teacher forming a band with the STEM teachers? Volatile Ways is the cheer captain forming a band with the rugby team. It’s a perfect blend of fabulous and fearsome, with soul-destroying breakdowns and cheeky video game references to boot. Quite literally slay.
David James Young is a writer, podcaster and hardcore fan of some 15-odd years – so, naturally, he has no idea what he’s talking about. Send him death threats on Instagram: @djywrites.