Step 2 Rhythm-August 2022
Posted: by The Editor
Hardcore is thriving, and it doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon. As a way to document this current moment, we present Step 2 Rhythm, a monthly column rounding up the best in hardcore coming out right now.
Burning Lord-Demo #2
Burning Lord fits right along the storied history of Boston hardcore, right down to the snarl of the vocalist. But you can still hear the northeast neighbor of New York too. On the Bandcamp notes for Demo #1, Burning Lord mentions Raw Deal and the New Breed comp as an influence, both of which came at a time when the city was getting a new generation carrying NYHC into the 90s. That comparison tracks for me and is unsurprisingly still there on Demo #2. “Intro/Demise” does the classic move of starting the EP with an instrumental track before ending in a quick fury of vocals. The biggest surprise comes from “A Cold Morning Meets The Sun,” which features what sounds like a synthesizer and works as an interlude for an already short EP.
Fugitive’s arrival is noteworthy for several reasons, but the biggest one comes from one of its guitarists. It’s the first band thing that Blake Ibanez has played on since Power Trip’s Nightmare Logic in 2017. It finds the guitarist playing in the familiar terrain of crossover, showing a healthy amount of hardcore here and there. But there is one key difference. Instead of playing at the breakneck pace of Power Trip, Fugitive reaches for something a bit slower. This change leaves the band closer to Venom or what you’d lovingly call thrash n roll. This choice ends up being a good one, helping to deliver one of the stronger debuts of the year.
Gel/Cold Brats-Shock Therapy
Shock Therapy sees two separate threads of hardcore punk across the world uniting for a split. For GEL, this is the latest release for one of the rising acts in the US hardcore scene. It comes just on the heels of a recently announced tour with Ceremony, and interest in the band seems to be at its highest. Their side of the split finds the band in the same reverb-drenched mania they’ve been so adept at playing in. It’s hardcore at its most economical, with each part crafted for the biggest live response. On the other hand, Cold Brats comes from Romania and plays more in the terrain of chaotic punk. Their songs adhere to a more freewheeling structure and even feature a quick guitar solo on “Mac-n-Cheese.”
Life’s Question-World Full Of…
On World Full Of…, Life’s Question is brimming with ideas. They aren’t just another band yearning for 90s New York hardcore unsuccessfully. Life’s Question adds something new to an already defined sound and fully commits to the sound of crossover. The guitar work is virtuosic while never veering into masturbatory territory. There are still all the traditional parts that make sure people can dance to these songs. But Life’s Question still leaves room for creativity, sometimes even showing tinges of melodicism on “The Will To Dream” and “Enemy.” It makes for a debut record that feels fully realized and sets a standard for newer bands to reach.
Mortality Rate-Rosemary/Salt Water
We last heard from Mortality Rate in 2019 when they put together You Were The Gasoline, which served as a tribute to a friend that passed away. Since then, vocalist Jes Nyx has stayed busy, launching the project World of Pleasure last year. I wrote about their second EP in this very column last month. But after three years, we finally have two new songs from Mortality Rate in Rosemary/Salt Water. It’s about what you would expect from this metallic hardcore band if you’ve listened to their previous material. But their already adept songwriting is paired with production that helps level up the material. Nyx’s vocals sound deranged in particular and shine through. The guitars are beefed up to my ears and help these songs feel massive.
No Souls Saved-Not One Saved
For those that follow this column closely, I first wrote about No Souls Saved in February for their debut EP. It found members of Mindforce, Vein FM, Sanction, and All Out War combining for a project. On that two-song promo, we saw the band displaying their blend of death metal and hardcore. It’s a potent combination that has been extensively explored in recent years in hardcore. But it still holds some power; I can imagine people hearing “Behold” and immediately crowd killing anyone on the border of the pit. It helps that No Souls Saved still adheres to the hardcore format, with no song exceeding the two-minute runtime. It ensures that listeners will never be bored while listening to the new EP, Not One Saved.
Off The Tracks-Demo II
Off The Tracks fits within the lineage of straight-edge hardcore and even sported the three X’s on the Demo cover art. Their songs talk about conflicts within the scene and are almost to be specific to not be about a person in particular. Demo II only continues this trend, using fast hardcore as its vehicle to deliver this message. “Now I Know” talks about empty sloganeering in the hardcore scene; “One More Reason” honestly speaks about clout chasers. The only time that Off The Tracks slows down is for the necessary two-step or breakdown part.
Path of Resurgence/Times of Desperation-Split
On the Path of Resurgence/Times of Desperation split, we see two bands across Europe uniting. They both seem to take inspiration from the 90s hardcore, specifically taking on a political bent to the lyrics. That strong point of view is paired with a heaviness one would expect from metallic hardcore or metalcore. Both bands would make a lot of sense alongside Inclination or Vein F.M., for example. But even though Path of Resurgence and Times of Desperation have similar entry points, the result is a bit different for each band. Path of Resurgence isn’t an outwardly straight edge band when you look closely. Their liner notes on Bandcamp read: “stand and fight against equality, patriarchy, and anti-imperialism.” That sentiment comes through in their two songs and especially on No Right (Fight fascism/Crush their face on their own throne”). Times of Desperation is unapologetically a vegan straight-edge band. Their song titles are more statements than anything, sporting names like “Participation Equals Guilt” and “Violence As a Means to an End.”
Serration/A Mourning Star-Split
This newest split from Serration and A Mourning Star is proof that we are on the precipe of a 2000s revival in hardcore. Both are reminiscent of a time when metallic hardcore quickly turned into what we know as metalcore, thanks to labels like Trustkill and Ferret. A Mourning Star is relatively new, releasing an EP earlier this year. They use metalcore to explore themes like grief, loss, and regret. Serration isn’t quite so far away from A Mourning Star musically, but they’ve been around for a bit longer. They have a split with rising stars Dying Wish and released a debut record in 2020. Serration’s lyrics have a bruised quality and would make just as much sense on an emo record as a metalcore one.
Take It To Heart-Hymns For The Hopeless
Take It To Heart takes its cues from the hardcore of the 2000s, choosing a similar bruised emotive poet tact that was very popular then. That lineage they descend from becomes very clear within seconds of Hymns for The Hopeless. You can hear bits of Have Heart, American Nightmare, and Carry On in various tracks. The lyrics read more like a diary entry, and it almost feels wrong to listen in. But it’s also the purpose that this style of melodic hardcore serves. It’s music for when people are at their worst and need something to grasp. It’s what makes this music evergreen. Everyone at one point has been in a rough place and needed someone to reach out to them.
Reissue/New To Me Corner
Reissues are just as important as anything that comes out of the hardcore scene on a monthly basis. It’s the way bands become remembered and reach a younger audience. Without it, they could be relegated to the dustbin and forgotten. A whole swath of bands is only available because of Youtube, limiting their reach. This lack of access matters because, for some, if it’s not on Spotify, it might as well not exist. To alleviate that reality, I’ll try to give a shoutout to one reissue or a new album I discovered each month.
Hatebreed has always been a band that I’ve respected but have never enjoyed. Satisfaction Is The Death of Desire was a gateway record for many people, but it never clicked for me. To my modern ears, it sounded like another metallic hardcore record. But especially with my love for Pain of Truth, I always knew I’d have to give Hatebreed another shot. On a whim, I recently put on Perseverance, the second record for the band. And by the time I heard “You’re Never Alone,” I was hooked. It was the perfect match of menacing heavy hardcore with catchiness. After listening to the record several times, it makes sense why they’re doing a whole anniversary tour surrounding it. Perseverance is just as essential to the hardcore cannon as anything else they’ve ever done. You can still feel its tentacles in a ton of metallic hardcore.
Hugo Reyes | @hvreyes5
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