Step 2 Rhythm-January 2024

Posted: by The Editor


In some ways, BIB’s influence pervades hardcore punk. Stuff like GEL and SPY, while not directly referencing the band, seems to be in the same lineage. And that is not even mentioning all the other imitators I have quickly listened to while forgetting their existence. It all makes the arrival of the first material from BIB in four years feel somewhat momentous. With Biblical, not much has changed in a good way. The drench of effects on the vocals is still there. The stompy, sort of fast dirge is ever-present, and I can imagine a parade of stage dives happening. “Bitter Mind” has a slight shift, with some guest vocals and some clean singing. But it isn’t a prominent enough feature on the entire EP to become distracting. Biblical is hardcore, for hardcore’s sake (sorry, that phrase is my mantra for the year).

Cosmic Joke-S/T

It is not that hard to find bands riffling through 80s hardcore for inspiration. Just spend some time on YouTube channels like No Deal and Felopunk; you will find plenty of examples. Cosmic Joke is different and seems deeply indebted to early Los Angeles hardcore. Singer Mac Miller is wearing a Bad Religion shirt in a press photo, and there are points where it calls to mind the band before their initial reunion. What that era of early California hardcore had in common with all the bands was that it was fast and aggressive, but melody was just as important. Cosmic Joke approximates that idea in a song like “Empty Nesting Doll.” The vocals sit up front while putting a skank part near the end, distinguishing it from its influences. My main complaint is that I wish there were more new songs on the record. Tracks 5 through 9 can also be heard on the demo.

Crawl Space-My God… What’ve I Done

The Bandcamp description from Iron Lung makes a lot of comparisons of the new record from Crawl Space to some familiar 80s hardcore titans, including Negative FX and Agnostic Front. And sure, almost every band making stompy hardcore punk has some elements of 80s New York and Boston swirling through them. What really shines through for Crawl Space is that it lacks specificity. I can live outside the constricting box of trying to place a band within a specific lineage. It is just noisy and fast, hardcore punk. There are fast parts; there is some sort of effect on the vocals, and occasionally, I get a two-step part that I so desire. At times, the recording quality can be distracting. The drums sound so brittle. But the songs are so compelling that I keep getting drawn into the nine-minute album. Eventually, I found the lo-fi recording charming enough that it was no longer a detriment and instead felt like a feature rather than a bug.

Dimension Six-Not The Same

Dimension Six is about as straightforward as hardcore could come in 2024. There are taut breakdowns broken up by the occasional fast part. The lyrics have the typical spiteful “fuck you” line that is needed for any hardcore song, using the music to air out grievances at someone. There is also an instrumental promo, checking off all the imaginary boxes I would make if I did mad libs of what a hardcore promo would sound like in 2024. It fits into a nice spot for me, where it is fast and heavy in equal measure. And if I am being honest, all my intellectualizing of how familiar it sounds is not that important. When the last breakdown hits in “D6,” nothing else matters.

Lethal-Hardcore Music Time

I quickly passed over Lethal’s debut, Lethal’s Hardcore Hit Parade, last year. I filed it under decent hardcore punk on 11 PM records. It wasn’t until recently, when I randomly met one of the members in line for water at the hardcore fest FYA, that I decided to give it another try. He described the project as hardcore kids doing punk in the vein of Poison Idea. I think it opened up the project for me, even if a lot of hardcore punk has some roots in Pick Your King era Poison Idea. Most of the time, it is unsuccessful in its execution. The newest release from Lethal, Hardcore Music Time, does not veer too far from the project’s original idea; all that changed is I have a little better idea of what they’re going for. It is scrappy in the way that I think hardcore punk should be. The originators of the genre recordings sounded like shit because of circumstances. Maybe they couldn’t afford enough recording time. Lethal tries to approximate that original feeling of old hardcore by recording it live, giving it some personality that can sometimes be missing.

Moment of Truth-M.O.T. Promo 2024

Moment of Truth doesn’t pretend to be anything other than ass-beating heavy hardcore. It is the type of band whose breakdowns encourage violence and hope that someone may be knocked out as a response. If that is not your thing, within 10 seconds, you can move on with your life. But even though this is not my preferred style of hardcore, there is enough for me to glom onto. The effects on the vocals, in particular, are putrid and have a bit of an old-school feel, given that there are two vocalists. Most importantly, the breakdowns are clever enough that I can be transported to when I saw a bunch of people beat the hell out of each other at FYA at the beginning of January.

Rejoice-All of Heaven’s Luck

On their debut LP All of Heaven’s Luck, Rejoice tear through eight blackened hardcore tracks in in twenty minutes, and Nathan Snitchler’s lyrics are as vicious as his delivery. He shrieks of “bloodsucking” and of the “corporate cross,” a vision of capitalism as a death cult: “working-class Jesus strung up on a dollar sign.” The music behind him matches the mood; these songs are immense and violent, all jagged metal riffs and punk breakdowns. It’s the first great hardcore release of ’24.

-Zac Djamoos (@gr8whitebison)


If you like your hardcore fast and aggressive, you will find something to like in rect. It is separate from what people call fast hardcore in that more metal leanings are interspersed. A writeup from Unite Asia labels it as powerviolence, but I would not let anybody who is not interested in that style be turned away. It reminds me of later era Regional Justice Center or Nails, where it felt like my nerve endings were fried in the best way possible. That is a lot to lay on anybody, but rect. at least gets in the neighborhood of those reference points. Every time I listen to Blitzgrief, I need to listen to the softest indie rock possible. Anything else vaguely aggressive will seem tame.

True Name-First Demo

You are not going to hear anything unfamiliar on the True Name demo. I could close my eyes and think I was listening to a demo on Lockin’ Out that you can only listen to on YouTube (Jaguarz-Jungle Jams or Crunch Time-The Realness). It fits into that familiar pocket of hardcore kids doing an interpretation of late 80s hardcore. In that, it is distinct from the hardcore punk that came before it, full of a metallic bounce. The lyrics on the demo are about what you expect, full of straight-edge screeds. It even has the line “still here, still true, I’m still here.” It is all you would expect out of a demo.

Reissue/Old Music Corner

Trapped In a Scene-UK Hardcore (1985-1989)

I am slowly making my way through Ian Glasper’s book Trapped In a Scene, which traces UK hardcore from 1985-1989. My familiarity with English hardcore is very shallow, meaning I know Discharge and some of the newer stuff. The book is flawed, trying to cover every single crevice. I feel overwhelmed and worried I will barely retain anything I have read so far. But what I can tell is that there is something very distinct to UK hardcore during the 80s that is very different from what was happening in the US. Stuff like Discharge looms large, and you can feel its presence on much of it. But the bands were in direct conversation with the explosion of thrash and crossover happening. The stuff so far that really stands out feels a little more aggressive and kind of bordering on crust punk. I’m specifically thinking of bands like Heresy, Sacrillege, and Doom. Maybe I like it because it reminds me of Tragedy. The whole compilation that was made for the book is worth your time. It does feel worlds apart from UK hardcore in the present day, which seems much more a part of US hardcore, especially considering a label like Quality Control. But someone like Stingray makes a lot more sense to me after reading some of the book and listening to the comp.

Hugo Reyes  | @hvreyes5

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