Honorable Mention: In spite of a raging pandemic that has put many bands in the worst financial positions in their careers, Turnstile has managed to have as good of a year as a band can reasonably have. With their newest release, GLOW ON, the band has moved from notability primarily in hardcore circles right into the mainstream, crossing genres along the way. With this shift, they’ve brought recognition to a sound that’s primarily lived in house shows and highly-curated festivals across the world, placing it inside the walls of major venues and garnering bolded placement on major festival posters. While this trajectory is reflective of a larger cultural shift in which the Midwestern basement has moved into the Internet sphere, it still speaks volumes to the specific boundaries that GLOW ON breaks. Hardcore bands can often be tough to define sonically, and while a primary association is the world of metal, one Turnstile definitely bears this out on the record, their singularity comes from how they also draw from such a broad array of influence, refusing to be placed into any particular box.
GLOW ON, most markedly, is defined by an insatiable rhythm, whether it be on ripping hot tracks that blast through their already brief runtime, or slower cuts that still manage to sound like they should be played in the wettest basement you’ve ever been in. This sonic character makes some sense, as the band is composed of 5 percussionists, and these intertwining beats meld together into what ultimately becomes the driving force for the album, a sense of brutal crescendo that makes you want to put your head down and get in the pit. With features from the likes of Blood Orange and Julien Baker mingling with their harsh metal riffs, it’s not hard to see the musical personality that makes this band so damn likable to so many. Prior to GLOW ON, it was unclear whether Turnstile would exist as a flash in a bottle, relegated to cellars and 300-capacity venues for the rest of their career, but with this record, it’s made evident that whether they continue to release albums as a band, the imprint they’ve left on the hardcore scene will live on well beyond them. Achieving only this would be a great success on its own, but the fact that the album screams for — and rewards — repeat listens only speaks to how deserved the group’s meteoric rise has been.