With the way the world has been completely consumed with year TWO of this fucking COVID bullshit, it only makes sense that bands took the first year NOT being able to tour or play shows to write new music, and then took this second year of hell to actually release said material. So it goes without saying that the world has been blessed with an insane collection of brand-new material this past year, especially from right here in Asia.
Below you’ll find our top 10 releases of this past year all from this beautiful continent of ours (EP and/or albums). Hopefully, you’ll check some of these out, get in touch with the bands and let them know that they rule.
In the comments below, let us know what we missed out on!
To all the bands who’re getting ready for 2022 – STOKED TO HEAR WHAT YOU GOT IN STORE FOR ALL OF US!
‘Narok Bon Din’
It’s insane that this record is how we started the year in 2021. Thai metallic hardcore behemoth Whispers had unleashed this little present to the world – a world that at the time was reeling from COVID having no idea that we’d approach the end of the fucking year and STILL be dealing with this bullshit. Whispers quickly proved to the world what I have been championing to the world for fucking years, as many MANY others have as well, that quality in our Asian hardcore community is high and mighty. This was the bar that was set at the beginning of 2021 and I can fully attest that the rest of the Asian hardcore community kept reaching that bar and pushing it even higher. Much has already been written about this band’s Kickback-inspired hardcore metal sound but as I sit here relistening to the full length for maybe the millionth time this year, it still fills me up with an immense amount of pride.
If you like hardcore chock-full of riffs, mosh parts, and groove for days – go peep this shit now if you haven’t already.
When I first heard the gents in Malaysian punk rock trio No Good was gearing up to release their debut full length this year I knew it was going to be on my top 10 list for sure just because their discography thus far has been incredibly out-of-the-box – and I am all about bands doing bringing something new to the table. The band features members of Killeur Calculateur and Dirgahayu but though there may be some hints of those bands in their music, No Good is its own beast altogether. No Good is more like a freight train petering on the edge right before what could be a catastrophic end but managing to hold it together for us listeners to get off the ride at our destination of punk rock bliss. The emotions they unleash in their music feels abrasive yet fun – along with the barrage of punk they throw reggae into the mix, reverb-drenched vocals, some native instruments and sounds, a madman on the mic (seriously inspiring vocalist), think Bad Brains in terms of the freeness in their music – only from Malaysia, not DC – because when each song ends you have no idea what’s in store next. Go listen to Suay to hear what we mean! So damn good.
Go give it a spin now.
Being able to put up releases by bands from scenes that aren’t very well known beyond their own borders, is one of my greatest joys. Macau is a small beautiful island off the coast of China neighboring our own beautiful little city of Hong Kong. The city is more known for, unfortunately, its casinos and hotels (“Unfortunate” because there is so much more to the city). It’s much less known for its musical output but right now I want to change all that by introducing you to this fucking absolute monster of a modern metalcore EP by a heavy band who call Macau home. The band is Cancer Game and their breathtaking EP that we can’t get enough of is called ‘Dot’. For many of you who are already well-versed in this form of metalcore, you may not find anything ‘new’ in this collection of music – but that’s ’cause you’re taking a very shallow dive into what the band is doing, and has done, on these 7 songs. Go back and listen to it again – the strings, the atmospherics, the layers upon layers of soundscapes that enhance the listening experience as the band takes you on their journey through the pummelling vocal delivery of Chester absolutely annihilating it on the mic.
The best part about hardcore the past 10 years is the explosion of variety…for those who’ve been involved in hardcore at least in the 00’s should know what I’m talking about. There was a period where every band sounded like Hatebreed and then Terror and then Have Heart then TUI…this was not only true out in the US but also out here in Asia. There was a tried and tested formula and people were aping that sound everywhere.
But the coolest thing about the past 10 years is suddenly bands are more comfortable pushing the envelope, creating music outside of the cliche small tiny parameters of what constitutes for “hardcore”. The small petty definition that annoying ass old-heads keep rehashing by yelling the same ol’ shit “I saw XXX in ’86! Don’t tell me about hardcore!”. To us knowing bands can add 90’s alt-metal elements to powerviolence to 80’s raw punk rock to to sludge to doom to late 90’s metallic hardcore to the melodic stuff of the 00’s to shoegaze to beatdown and still be considered “hardcore” these days is the best fucking thing to happen to hardcore in years.
And when bands combine all those insane elements to create manic hardcore like Nepali hardcore band Manasik Karagar on their short debut EP ‘Bhumigat Sangeet’ while singing/screaming in their native tongue, well, that’s the best shit ever. Not to mention the band proudly flies the straight edge flag. DOPE.
Go support this great band…get ready to be pummelled by the extremeness in their music.
‘States of Chaos’
In terms of debut albums, few have gone the way of monstrous acts like death metal band Godless out of India. They have put so much time and work into their band that it is easy to seem shocked that only in 2021 did the band actually release their DEBUT album ‘States of Chaos’. If you look over their trajectory it hasn’t ever been a gradual rise to popularity for the band, from our outsider’s perspective (sitting here in Hong Kong), this band pretty much came storming out of the gates with quality music and visuals. I mean come on – the band’s name is ‘Godless’! How fucking badass is it to name your own band Godless! Of course that’s going to turn heads, and if you’re going to turn heads (and cause, maybe, some controversy in the process) you best have them goods ready at hand. Their debut album far exceeds all expectations and is a firm reminder of why I chose to start Unite Asia in the first place – to be able to showcase the insane talent that lives on our shores. The riffs, the technicality, the production, nothing was compromised when presenting their first full-length to the world. I’ve ordered the vinyl version and can’t wait to dive into the artwork, layout and liner notes to see how they made sure that shit was all top-notch as well.
Godless is one of the finest and this release is a gift to the fucking planet.
I don’t even know how to explain to you how much I love this record. I love it. Everything about it. The artwork, the straight-ahead no-frills barrage of in your face hardcore punk, the grit on that lower register of vocals. Fucking love it. This record came out at the very beginning of the year and I loved it then and as I’m listening back to it now, I still remember exactly why this release felt so fucking important.
Crucial Response, in these short 5 song bursts, harnesses all the raging fury of pissed-off hardcore punk. This is the way it should sound folks.
‘Too Kitsch to Punk’
I know for many people around the world putting their top 10 lists together South Korean punk band Slant is going to be on that list, so I had to make sure to put something different on mine so people would have something else to check out. Slant no doubt rules, as we’ve been fans for years, but the band The Kitsches should NOT BE SLEPT ON especially if you listen to the explosive 5 track punch in the punk rock gut which is the band’s latest release ‘Too Kitsch to Punk’. To me out here in Hong Kong where there really isn’t much of a punk scene, it always boggles my mind that recordings of punk bands in South Korea can fully capture the essence of punk rock so beautifully well. If you listen to this release, you can hear it in the guitars, on the drums, definitely in the vocal delivery (and the reverb on the vocals is perfect), everything simply from a production point of view showcases the depth of understanding people in the studio had to record a punk rock band properly. But musically, the sense of urgency in the songs and the vocals – the fact the band incorporates both Korean and English in the lyrics – is like taking you by the hair and shaking you violently to make you pay attention.
Everything about this release rules…the fact that it’s SO short that you HAVE to play it at least 5 times before you finish your first cup of morning coffee makes it even more awesome.
Oh, dude…this record is a fierce attack on your aural senses right from the opening note. The band Only The Last Song has been around for 9 years featuring members who moonlight in bands like Blindside, Soul Discharge, Shapeshifter, etc…basically, band members who know a thing or two about this thing called “hardcore”. With a pedigree like that of course the music is going to be stellar – we just had no idea HOW good it was until the band released this full length. If you enjoy your hardcore on the powerviolence tip, where it sounds like the band literally fell apart in the studio trying to record this with the vocalist spitting blood all over the mic…AND for this to all be captured PERFECTLY…you NEED to go listen to how GREAT this is right fucking now.
‘Life Won’t Wait’
What a Beautiful Day is a band that has always grabbed my heart right from the get-go. You can read about the band as much as you want on the website simply by typing the band’s name in the search box and see for yourself how much I love this band and all their music.
The thing about this brand new EP is how it landed in my inbox out of nowhere. The band had been releasing little clips about it including an awesome music video, but there was no official “release date”. Just by chance, I searched the band’s name on my Apple Music player and it fucking popped up! I scrambled to press play as fast as possible and immediately was flooded (like I always am with this band’s beautiful melodic hardcore) with emotions. The way the band persists in releasing music in Cantonese even though Mandarin would certainly catapult them into much larger audiences in China always fills me up with insane amounts of respect. On this particular EP, the band does have their first Mandarin song but the rest of the EP continues to hold onto their mother language – Cantonese. Musically too, the band seems even more confident and bolder in who they are and are even more comfortable shedding the remaining walls that “hardcore” puts up around themselves. The band frankly is just about creating moving music and that’s all that matters.
Even if you don’t understand the lyrics – the delivery of the vocals and the emotions in the music is enough for you to understand the heart and soul the band puts into everything they do.
I love this band.
You should too.
I don’t even know where to begin with this album…punk rock and hardcore have always been a place for bands/musicians and activists to use the music and platform to speak about injustices and through this, try to make a change. I don’t care how naive and idealistic that sounds, I still believe that this is the essence of punk rock to this day. In recent times, however, the lyrical content of hardcore and punk seems to be less and less important. This is evident on the site especially with the amount of times “punk” and “hardcore” bands submit news to me WITHOUT mentioning what their new songs are about. It’s insane…
We have written about Myanmar punk rock band The Rebel Riot countless times and will continue to write about them countless times more simply because they aren’t cosplaying as a “punk” band but are actually out there every day on the streets of Myanmar LIVING punk rock. The band has been involved with Food Not Bombs and even education by going to remote villages to educate young children. The band for the past two years has also been providing songs of resistance against the unfathomable atrocities the Junta is carrying out on its own people. For this, and because the fucking music rules, my NUMBER ONE release of the year is hands down the band’s debut full-length ‘One Day’. You should go listen to this right now and then again every fucking day to remind yourself what punk rock should be about. You should also make sure to keep yourself up to date with what’s going on in places beyond your own borders.
Viva La Resistance.
(We reviewed the album HERE)