Step 2 Rhythm – December 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 Strong-Here Until The End

Burning Strong indicates a larger trend that is emerging as of late. We’re beginning to see hardcore look back toward the 2000s for inspiration. Bands like Go It Alone and Carry On are considered essential pieces of the hardcore cannon and worth reinterpreting. And it’s apparent within seconds of Here Until The End that Burning Strong are students of this sort of melodic hardcore that thrived during the 2000s. There are plenty of moments for a pile-on. There’s a sprinkling of gang vocals every once in a while.“Fortunate Ones” starts with a moody acoustic guitar riff to underpin the emotional weight to follow. “The Torch” features a quick breakdown that makes more sense on a heavier hardcore record.

Colonial Wound-Easy Laugh

Colonial Wound harkens back to hardcore in the 90s before metalcore solidified. We saw hardcore collide with other heavy genres in interesting ways. Think of bands like Coalesce and Deadguy. Like those acts, Colonial Wound doesn’t go straight for the primitive breakdown every time. Instead, each song on Easy Laugh feels more like a mood piece than stage directions for the moshers. “Covering Ground” lurches forward slowly; “Handcuff Trick” starts with a bruising assault before slowing down to a contemplative jam session. But this is not to say Colonial Wound suddenly become washed-out indie rock. Easy Laugh is still music rooted in hardcore, evidenced by the vigorous attack of “Altar of Youth.” 

Discreet-This is Mine

Discreet makes the sort of noisy, cacophonous hardcore that is in line with the genre at its beginnings. It was a time when no band in the scene sounded alike, and sometimes it feels like this current moment in hardcore is returning to that time. Discreet, too, doesn’t necessarily sound like any contemporaries I can think of, allowing the band to carve out their lane. Some songs on This is Mine have more of the uptempo aggression that one associate with hardcore punk in the present. Others plod along, giving a bit more tension to the song structure. It helps make a debut record from Discreet a little more palatable and feels fresh compared to other hardcore punk I’ve heard recently. 

En Love-Fled

Where others look towards the melodic fare of the 2000s, En Love makes sense alongside Ceremony before Rohnert Park or Trash Talk. Both made hardcore that felt as primal as the genre could be, seeking to incite as much violence as possible. Through a couple of short EPs, En Love has accomplished something similar. Their songs are brief, never going over the two-minute mark, sometimes even veering into power violence briefly. Fled, the newest release for En Love, doesn’t disappoint in any way and comes at an opportune time. Ohio hardcore seems to be thriving, thanks to a label like Delayed Gratification Records. It makes the eventual full-length for En Love an opportunity to boost the band and the entire scene.

Fading Signal-Toy Soldier

It’s clear from the first few notes of any Fading Signal song that the band has an affinity for a band like American Nightmare. The connection is clearest on a new two-song promo, which features a cover of Hearts. But even if they never covered American Nightmare, you can feel their influence and that period of hardcore throughout the short discography of Fading Signal. You can even look towards naming an EP Nothing Feels Good. It’s a statement to the listener that the next six minutes will be a moody hardcore piece. Thankfully, Fading Signal’s sincerity never becomes overbearing, creating plenty of wonderful mosh parts for the dancefloor. 

Planet On a Chain-Deprogram

Deprogram isn’t necessarily a new release for Planet On a Chain. It combines the two demos the band has released so far to celebrate their recent signing to Revelation Records. It still feels like it manages to flow like an album and is sequenced as if it is one. There isn’t ever a dull moment, fitting 17 songs in 18 minutes. If it were any longer, it would no longer stay true to the spirit of hardcore punk. Brevity is key, and any moments where the songs slow down are to deliver a release ready-made for the dancefloor. 

Rabbit-Halo of Files

While Rabbit plays metallic hardcore, it isn’t what you expect when you think of that genre tag. There aren’t those huge chugging guitar riffs meant to incite violence. I don’t mean to imply that there aren’t mosh parts; there are plenty of moments where I can envision the dancefloor breaking out into chaos. But Halo of FIles does feel like the expression of something ugly. It’s the type of emotion that most may keep hidden, but Rabbit shows it for all to see. The noises that come out of the vocalist are inhuman and layered with effects. It makes you curious about what is being said, which is more than I can say about most hardcore bands. 

Seed of Pain/Demonstration of Power Split

On the Seed of Pain/Demonstration of Power split, we see two forms of heavy hardcore colliding. Seed of Pain comes from the gnarled rhythms of Ringworm and places it in a modern context. They vacillate between brutal breakdowns to sprightly two-step parts. We get a slight detour with a cover of Stabbed In The Back by Youth of Today. Demonstration of Power, on the other hand, makes the first part of this split feel tame by comparison. Every piece feels menacing and daring you to start a fight with the next person you see. Even their cover of Breakdown’s “Sick People” is more pissed off than the original. 

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.

At All Cost-Nothing Comes Easy

Because of Mindforce and Age of Apocalypse, there has been more attention on Hudson Valley hardcore in recent years. But to understand the area’s origins, we should look towards At All Cost. The Bandcamp bio for their reissue describes them as high school kids who discovered New York hardcore from the sleepy suburbs. Within seconds of “Decisions,” you begin to internalize that description, feeling like they couldn’t come from anywhere else. Both demos have that familiar New York bounce, making sense alongside the Raw Deal demo or Killing Time. But you also get a sense of the metal influence infecting the genre, sprinkling in guitar solos on the 1990 demo. It’s a cool look into hardcore before it undergoes another transformation in the 90s. 

Hugo Reyes  | @hvreyes5

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