20 Underground Noise Rock Albums You Missed in 2019

I’ve compiled this list not as a “best of” for the wide blanket of noise rock in 2019 but to illustrate what noise rock is/was beneath the surface in 2019… and where I think it was most interesting and overlooked. It -does- kinda lean towards a best of the runners-up this time around, though. From my own point of view these albums were underrepresented and/or passed by quickly by media outlets and some for admittedly valid reasons. So, here are some bands that stood out to me (for GOOD reasons) as I dug through noise rock’s innards throughout 2019. There are literally hundreds (er, tens) of great bands that I don’t mention here which I’ve already reviewed, covered, mentioned, or put in my Top 50 for this year so hit the search icon to see if I’ve already covered something vital, otherwise let me know what I’ve missed.


Artist Airduster
Title [Type/Year] Airduster [EP/2019]
Rating [3.5/5.0] BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp! 

I’ll be honest, I think you’d benefit from a knife in the ear you fucking lemming! A musical one, eh. Atlanta, Georgia sludgy noise rock n’ hardcore punk beaters Airduster reveal a trenchcoat lined with blades on this debut, a set of songs written as a big “Fuck You” to rampant censorship, cattle-assed outrage culture, and boring fucking groupthink behavior that plagues well… Music in general. Box an independent thinking man in long enough and you’re going to get shanked the moment your little moralistic utopian polyanna tooter forgets to account for human nature and wait a minute… “Political” music sucks, eh? No way, the cuts are all worth it on ‘Airduster’, a sharp 15 minute shake of 90’s drugged freak rock, big whipped grooves, and a long pull on a full clip of defiance-tipped mood music. Consider that defiance the medication you need to divert some of the chaotic holier than thou pressure the wrong kind of people put on art, or the musical equivalent of Bart Simpson whipping cupcakes at the wall. I loved it, anyhow. Production is really fine work and the whole dynamic of the music is wildly entertaining, I only wanted a real jolt of energy in between the bigger stoned grooves of the thing. “Puttyhead” / “Sniff” is a great ride, a commendable intro to Airduster‘s sound.


Artist Trigger Cut
Title [Type/Year] Buster [LP/2019]
 Rating [3.75/5.0] BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!

Trigger Cut are a German noise rock trio featuring key ex-members of Buzz Rodeo and the drummer from Majmoon. Never heard of either? Me too but I’ve sure as hell heard a mountain of midwest born Touch and Go/Amphetamine Reptile assed 90’s styled noise rock and holy damn does Trigger Cut‘s debut ‘Buster’ buzz and clank its way through a fine, fine bump of classic noise rock sound. The bass could be uglier, the vocalist could lose his mind a bit earlier, but I was more than happy to dip my brain in their world for about 40 minutes or so. Dunno what it is about the guitar tone/effects on “Free Hugs” but I found myself jumping right to that song and sitting through “Pony Pony”, consider it the ‘meat’ of the record for my taste. Doesn’t come close to the affected sarcasm of say, Buildings this year but still fits alongside that heavier, bleaker sound.


Artist Prayer Group
Title [Type/Year] Eudean [EP/2019]
 Rating [3.5/5.0] BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!

About 90% of the time when a band sends me a streaming link to check out their latest thing I just kinda shrug it off. Thanks, but I’m technically a millennial and I want an mp3/wav. Kidding, though I did wait a while to really jump on this third EP from Richmond, Virginia noise rock ramblers Prayer Group. ‘Eudean’ is hulk-heavy, post-punk’d, and way darker than expected without ever going full-on sludge and/or metal. It isn’t too far from what a band like Wrong might sound like if they weren’t so focused on the whole Helmet thing and Prayer Group get it right in terms of building off of noise punk’s pushier rhythmic self. As always I’m entirely tuned into an Audiosiege render and they’ve really beefed up the drum sound here. Only think I’d say negative is that while each EP presents a different point of interest for the band there isn’t a shit-ton of variety on each and ‘Eudean’ blows by fast with four fairly similar cuts.


Artist Harmacy
Title [Type/Year] Ego Deaf [EP/2019]
 Rating [4.0/5.0] BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!

Fresh off of a steamy-but-short split with Piss Shy Atlanta, Georgia noise rock/hardcore punk unit Harmacy stiffen up for their most serious and havoc infused EP yet with ‘Ego Deaf’. The spiraling wavy grooves and righteous bass guitar tone carry the weight of this sweetly produced 15 minute EP, which the band suggest you just fuckin’ sit through all at once, but its that screaming dude with the mullet who really puts in the work expressing a bit of existential dread amidst the freakout punk rock happening. Sounds like more of a ruckus in the midst of my hyperbolic blabbing but “moderate rock” taken to an extreme-shouting buzzsaw place is rarely done this well; Reminds me a bit of that fine-assed Kansakunnan Ylpeys LP from earlier this year.


Artist Salvation
Title [Type/Year] Year of the Fly [LP/2019]
 Rating [4.25/5.0] BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!

Hoo-boy! Chicago, Illinois trio Salvation have one of the very best 90’s flannel n’ meth-mouth howled noise rock stompers of the damned year. Shits practically flying out of their mouths and fingers on ‘Year of the Fly’ and not enough people are jamming it. Why not? Over-used band name — I mean, its all discoverability in this case because the music is bright as hell. This is exactly the sort of chunked and churning internalized Hell that every noise rock dork wants in their record collection year over year. I’d highly recommend it, at least. I don’t get why publications suggested this had some ‘old school heavy metal’ in the mix, just keep flinging until something sticks? Big recommendation on my end if you’re into a lil (early) Oxbow and Tad in your grungy, unfocused n’ raw noise rock. I’d bump the rating higher if not for the 6-7 minutes of filler split between the final track (“Delusions and Grandeur”) and “Palinopsia”.


Artist Nerver
Title [Type/Year] Believer’s Hit [LP/2019]
 Rating [3.25/5.0] BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!

Missouri math-hardcore/noise rock act Nerver are a step beyond their emoviolent noise-core days in Celebration as they begin to slow down, brood-out and grind to a different beat on their debut ‘Believer’s Hit’. Early Melvins and Jesus Lizard are cited but they’re way harder than that and still have some mechanical mathcore feeling residue in their muscle memory yet. Bass guitar tone didn’t do it for me about half the time but the overall swinging fuck-up of the full listen was great, tons of extremely heavy kinda-broken Breather Resist style abrasiveness. Too ‘core’ for me overall but I love the big shift in style that came with this release.


Artist Chat Pile
Title [Type/Year] This Dungeon Earth [EP/2019]
 Rating [3.75/5.0] BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!

Between the shitty 2000’s black metal logo and the super-goofin’ memeable photo on the front of this Oklahoma City quartet’s first EP you’d think I was doing a friend a favor just by mentioning it but 1. Nobody reads my shit, I don’t have friends, and 2. Chat Pile are a legitimate good listen. This is the first of two EPs released by this band in 2019 and they’re both of pretty equal quality in terms of recording and their busted and drugged sludge sound and not-so-serious lyrics that’re barked/barfed with serious depravity by way of vocalist Raygun Busch. Check out their other 2019 EP, ‘Remove Your Skin Please’, and its brilliantly drunk-assed, haven’t slept in four days opener. Huge sound, huge songs, highly recommended stuff.


Artist Big Grump
Title [Type/Year] The Tick [EP/2019]
 Rating [3.5/5.0] BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!

Holy damn if Trigger Cut‘s album already took us back to ’91 then Big Grump‘s latest EP ‘The Tick’ will have you acid washing your damn jeans jacket ahead of the curb back towards ’89. That big garage-door banging bass guitar tone is perfect for the weasel-twisted guitar runs and barks of this Memphis, Tennessee dirty dog trio. Zeni Geva, No Means No, and er, early Cows comes to mind here when things are loose and banging hard. The first three songs set the bar pretty high and the last two kinda slap me back down to ‘just alright’ territory.


Artist Den
Title [Type/Year] Iron Desert [LP/2019]
 Rating [3.75/5.0] BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp

I try and listen to everything Corpse Flower Records puts out but this one slipped through my fingers until more recently. Den aren’t the sort of band you’re going to corner and peg right away thanks to some unique instrumentation, which I’m going to refer to as the hyperspace-death/bass moog, and plenty of experimentation on ‘Iron Desert’. So, the core of what Den are doing is basically an atmospheric sludge metal version of (early) Lightning Bolt, cranked a little bit louder and stretching in style between punkish freakouts, noise rock stomps, and big droning doom monoliths. They call it ‘trucker noise’ but I dunno if I’d recommend driving with Den in your veins, just lay on your side and try not to choke on all the foamy puke. ‘Iron Desert’ could be fairly considered the most serious release from the band thus far in the sense that they didn’t just drive out to some barn in Michigan and record it themselves, eh. It also marks the first recordings with bassist Dylan Piskula who embraces this wild-assed power-electronic drone-doomed futurism with heavy handed playing throughout. Whatever you want to call Den‘s style it’s doom-rockin’ hellblast of cursed low-rumbling punchiness fits in the modern noise rock and experimental sludge landscape best.


Artist Losers
Title [Type/Year] Welcome to Help [LP/2019]
 Rating [4.0/5.0] LISTEN on Bandcamp!

Hey, man, if you want to stop me right there and say “I’ll bet thats a goddamned hardcore punk record you fuck!” I’ll get your gib but wholly disagree, I mean there is a healthy bat-swipe of Born Against noisiness and some Kaliedoscope ‘old school’-isms the bulk of ‘Welcome to Help’ goes pretty hard into big freakin’ noise rock and post-punk tangents. But who gives a shit?! The point is that this record is a barreling blast of mind-bending, noisy insanity as hollow-souled as it is intensely swelling with nauseating rhythms and manic skull-clubbing energy. Not noise rock enough for you? Jesus, you suck. Up there with my favorite records of the year and couldn’t help including it here.


Artist Mula
Title [Type/Year] Matasesos [LP/2019]
Rating [3.25/5.0] BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!

Although I clearly lean towards the noise punk, and late 80’s mania infused styles of noise rock I fully understand the origins of the species in experimental, improvisational and general art rock that birthed the techniques and sounds responsible. Bogotá, Colombia based septet Mula bring an expansive sound and defiant spirit to their improvisation rich avant-garde jazz-fused noise rock sound. Saxophone, clarinet, synthesizers, and guitars all work together to create aggressive and often menacing overtones to balance out a huge bass guitar driven sound. Yes, it is almost entirely instrumental but I think ‘Matasesos’ has enough going on in any given moment that you won’t feel lacking for a central voice or guidance through its tumult.


Artist Blank Veins
Title [Type/Year] With the Ashes [EP/2019]
 Rating [3.5/5.0] BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!

A noisy tape-scraping finale from this Thessaloniki, Greece based noise rock/no wave duo who’re fittingly noxious and abrasive even without the showers of static raining from this tape. All of the noisome obstruction here, which I’m overplaying, lends it a sort of mid-to-late 80’s demo sound that really works with this sound. I’d discovered this by chance, having bought the new Live Skull comeback album and gotten a recommendation for this as well. The saxophones that start to kick in around “Taken Out” act almost like solos, bringing their ‘Strap it On’-era Helmet noise closer to the early New York greats in their punkest of phases.


Artist Rut
Title [Type/Year] Circle of Service [LP/2019]
 Rating [3.5/5.0] BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!

Rut are another band that might not be pure noise rock but they no doubt built up to some intense peaks that always seem to resolve through extensive freakouts. The best example of this is the aptly named “Spiral” where their usual gloom-rock sound builds a math rock sort of pressure until everything collapses into screaming, guitar-wrangling noise rock runs. “No Memory” likewise makes my case a bit more clear as those descending mathy guitar runs bristle with freakout rock energy. Those points of tension do not define ‘Circle of Service’, though, as most of the record pushes a gloomy post-rock sourness. Rut will stay on their toes throughout, never resting on the same style of song twice or delving too far into their depressive indie rock territory. I’ll admit I wasn’t completely sold on this album until 1. I’d heard the finale, “The Loop” and 2. I’d realized the drummer here is likely the same guy who drums for death metal band Undeath who put out the most ace demos in that sub-genre this year.


Artist Terrible Lovers
Title [Type/Year] Sweet Dreams​/​In the Weeds [EP/2019]
 Rating [3.5/5.0] BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!

This third EP from Terrible Lovers by way of Kenny Johnson (Ed Kemper Trio, El Chupa Cobra) in 2019 is probably my favorite largely due to its more aggressive, riff-focused approach. “In the Weeds” cuts right in and builds in a fantastic way, a John Williams joint for an enraged alien race remaking Jaws in 2099… Something like that, anyhow. “Sweet Dreams” builds on the style of the first EP in term of guitar techniques, angular and far more abrupt. Two quick and heavy songs in under five minutes that give a great window into this fine solo project.


Artist LØRE
Title [Type/Year] Nailfish [EP/2019]
 Rating [3.25/5.0] BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!

There is a huge world of Swiss independent garage punk, noise rock, post-rock and whatnot out there that doesn’t get enough pull outside of its main bubble. Case in point, LØRE, a post-punk/noise rock band who’re just having fun at this point but maybe by virtue of their taste they’ve managed a second EP, ‘Nailfish’, in 2019 that communicates disconnection, a genuine alienation even with these sing-along punk rock songs. “Beehives” is the jam here, though I’d guess “Oliver Greenmilk” will be the right stuff for folks who lean towards indie rock and such. Nothing I’d fall out of my chair over but I think these guys are onto something.


Artist Tile
Title [Type/Year] Stendell [EP/2019]
 Rating [4.0/5.0] BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!

I loved Tile‘s ‘Come on Home, Stranger’ last year, it was up there in my Top 5 noise rock things that year and I somehow still totally missed the release of this EP in November of this year. The Pennsylvania trio play a bass-heavy, groove thumbing form of modern noise rock that is light on the freakout and heavy on the attack a la Bummer and Tongue Party. They’re pretty buttoned up but that tightly wound thing is part of the trio’s charm, on this on this EP that bass-heaviness chunks out like a cannon full of meat. Like, good meat. Curious to find out if Stendell ever actually whips out that dirt bike or just sets it out so folks will ask him about it.


Artist Bedtimemagic
Title [Type/Year] Pillow Talk [LP/2019]
 Rating [3.5/5.0] BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp

No doubt Bedtimemagic, who must’ve taken their name from Boston’s longest running radio show for lovers, take some mild influence from Lightning Bolt if only by virtue of a minimal drum and bass setup and their math/noise rock freakout modus. Dressed in pretty fancy clothes and putting in truly athletic rock performances throughout, ‘Pillow Talk’ is the work of sweaty, intense folks that I’ve had trouble not reducing to comparable acts. Post-hardcore influences do help differentiate on several songs songs but the major point of “Hey, jerk-off this is different” comes as Bedtimemagic benefit from fantastic production, juicing the bass without going mathcore-synthetic and cranking the levels just enough that the mix continuously threatens to collapse under the weight created. By the time ‘Pillow Talk’ began to annoy the shit out of me the record was over and I dunno, that is as clear of a sign of a great noise rock experience in 2019 as any.


Artist Jars
Title [Type/Year] Vilnius III [Live LP/2019]
 Rating [3.75/5.0] BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp

I know Russian noise rock/post-hardcore band Jars put out an EP recently but I preferred this third live album which continues the tradition of live albums recorded in Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania. The sound is clear and provides an ample bass guitar tone, changing the texture of these songs which I’ve mostly experienced on Bandcamp these last couple of years. Jars are beyond charming, always aggressive and likely remain underrated due to the language barrier. They’re punks and exactly the right kind to be making this noisome, groove-heavy post-hardcore influenced style of noise rock. They sound great live, too, so check this LP out or try YouTube.


Artist Thank
Title [Type/Year] Please [EP/2019]
 Rating [3.5/5.0] BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp

I can imagine you’re not entirely sure how dark of a pit within the internet’s bowels you’ve fallen into until this frightening no wave, post-punk EP with light noise rock influences creeps into your mind, shouting “My god is a vengeful god”. My eyes are blurring over at this point, and I figured it’d make sense to bring in an easier groove via these syncopated nigh apocalyptic synthpunk beats to liven up the last gasp on this very long list. Is it just PiL-lite with a cheap synthesizer and straight-shouting rants the whole time? Kinda, and that sounds awesome either way.


Artist Fun
Title [Type/Year] Death Star [LP/2019]
 Rating [4.0/5.0] BUY/LISTEN on Bandcamp!

Helsinki, Finland based noise rock/indie rock band Fun put in about 14 years worth of overstretching themselves before they tuned fully out, having kinda punched out the noise rock bucket list with records produced by Steve Albini and Greg Norman. They were good albums, too, recalling the best of the 90’s noise rock while completely fucking with the rhythms of noise rock at the time. They reformed in 2018 and modestly self-recorded this third album in their practice space on a 2-track. ‘Death Star’ is impressively rendered considering the free-wheeling cut of it all but no doubt they’ve nailed the takes. I guess the “Well, the world is gonna end. Lets record some fucked up rock music.” idea actually worked out for Fun. Yes, it is pretty bare and raw but this ends up working well for the band who’re more ‘Spiderland’ than ever on this short LP and taking cues from math rock just enough to keep the ideas varied across the 25 or so minute length of ‘Death Star’. Hated it for a day and loved it for several months.

If I missed your favorite noise rock album from 2019 I’m not surprised! E-mail me or hit me up on twitter if you want me to review your favorite noise rock album. If you’re in a noise rock band and you want a review of your latest, hit the Contact page and send me a copy, keep in mind I do not want skronk-core, mathcore, or plain math rock in my ears!

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