With all of the space given by the local press to the nationwide impact of North Texas musicians on a variety of genres, it's shocking that so little has been written about the area's influence on the American hardcore scene. For a musical style that's all too often written off as one-dimensional, it's undeniable that North Texas has one of the most diverse and influential hardcore scenes in the nation.
The past few years have seen area bands releasing highly respected recordings and touring all over the world on a scale largely unmatched by any other local subgenre. Here are seven just such bands that are leading the pack of North Texas' hardcore surge.
Undoubtedly North Texas' most well-known hardcore export, Power Trip made an impact immediately from their inception in 2008, releasing a demo and a string of well-received EPs and singles over the next few years. Combining the unsettling disharmonies of thrash godfathers Slayer and Exodus with the bass-heavy rhythmic thrust of old-school hardcore, the band is rightfully seen as one of the progenitors of the late-2000s resurgence of thrash/hardcore crossover. Last year's Manifest Decimation LP, the band's debut full-length released by revered metal label Southern Lord Records, established the band as a force within U.S. hardcore. The record's impact was felt immediately, its release coinciding with coverage from larger, more-mainstream media outlets, including a memorable and hilarious piece by PBS from the mosh pit of one of the band's raucous sets at this year's SXSW music festival.
Fort Worth's Sin Motivo burst out of the gate at the inception with a string of highly charged live appearances. The band's sound is hard to pin down, falling within the framework of '80s hardcore punk but driven by a penchant for experimentation and an expansive songwriting approach. On their most recent release, last year's Tour Tape MMXIII, the band couples their frenzied bursts of aggression with the patience to allow their songs space to breathe. Opener "Laberintos" builds tension through deconstruction, with a solid, wildly aggressive first few minutes that methodically tear itself apart until just drums and the sound of scraping chains remain. The rhythm section pushes and pulls tempos with dexterity, giving the band an unhinged, almost-off-the-rails quality that makes for an exhilarating listen.
Combining the mid-paced heaviness of East Coast hardcore with bristling metallic aggression, Dallas' Vulgar Display has been prolifically touring and releasing new music since 2012. What sets the band apart, most notably on last year's Under Darkness & Prayer EP, is the inescapable sincerity and energy with which the songs are performed. The recording exudes an overwhelming sense of anger and malignance that never lets up, even extending to the well-placed sample from the chilling climax of There Will Be Blood. But while the recordings do justice to the sonics of the band's sound, the only way to truly experience Vulgar Display is to catch one of their highly charged live sets.
While still undeniably a hardcore band, Dentonites Wiccans operate with a focus on melody over brutality, sidestepping the overt metal influences of some of the other acts on this list. Their sound relies heavily on twangy guitar tones that bite rather than bludgeon, recalling at times the sophisticated proto-punk of Television delivered with blistering intensity. The band has showcased a strong work ethic ever since their 2009 inception, repeatedly touring across the country and garnering a loyal cult following. Their two full-length releases, 2011's Skullduggery and 2012's Field II, received high acclaim from underground tastemakers, and according to the band's Facebook page a third album is in the works.
A string of well-received demo releases and compilation appearances have earned Truth a sizeable buzz in the U.S. hardcore underground. Formed in Dallas in 2011, the band specializes in the straight-edge style of hardcore pioneered by Washington, D.C.'s the Teen Idles and Minor Threat. On this year's One Step Closer demo, immediacy is the name of the game. The band's brief bursts of melodic, propulsive hardcore are captivating in their earnestness, the shouted vocals conveying a sense of emotion that makes the songs all the more compelling. The three tracks on One Step Closer will appear on an upcoming full-length, Time is Now, so expect to hear more from the band soon.
Dallas' Modern Pain have had a busy 2014, releasing the Self Deconstruction EP this July through venerable Massachusetts hardcore label Six Feet Under Records, trekking across the West Coast this August on a two-week tour, and culminating in December with a high-profile appearance at FYA Fest in Florida. Self Deconstruction builds on the promise of 2012's Reality of the Pain, delivering a fully realized listening experience in its concise running time. The band has a great sense for pacing, allowing their songs space when needed, most notably on the dirgy, feedback-laden "No Control (No Remorse)". But make no mistake: Self Deconstruction is uncompromising in its absolute, claustrophobic darkness.
End Times, Dallas' purveyors of metallic hardcore since 2010, have built a strong following around North Texas based on the strength of last year's Descension LP. Featuring members of Humanerror and the aforementioned Vulgar Display, the band draws influences from across the spectrum of metal, punk and hardcore to create a sound rooted in both past and present. Nimble fretwork and dual-guitar harmonies sit comfortably beside doomy passages and more straightforward, driving thrash, creating a varied and well-rounded sound.
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