Step 2 Rhythm-February 2024

Posted: by The Editor

Abso-DEMO ’24

I was doing my usual scrolling on Instagram when I saw someone share the demo from ABSO. The description was 80s Boston X-Claim worship, which is precisely my thing. The anger that comes from SSD and others from that time still resonates with me today. But as with anyone reaching back to hardcore from forty years ago, it simply cannot recreate the context in which those initial records were made. ABSO, to me, sounds like a lot of bands today that get positioned as “regular hardcore” among people I see talking online. The first song has an intro that I can envision people stomping along to. Others have a nice mix of fast to slower parts for the moshers. It is everything I could want out of a demo. Get in; get out. Don’t take too much of my time with frivolous and unnecessary stuff. 

Collateral-We Still Know

Since seeing Collateral a few months ago, I have become won over. They strike that hard to describe feeling that the best fast hardcore stirs in me. I will find myself randomly fist-pumping during certain moments of We Still Know. Sometimes, it will be the knowing Bad Brains reference at the beginning of the title track. Other times, it will be a breakdown that just sticks to me. It is hard to talk about Collateral beyond tired phrases like “this rips” or “this rocks.” You either feel moved by the two-step part in “Mind Control,” or it stirs nothing in you. It is all about feeling, as a lot of my favorite hardcore is.

Corrective Measure-NOT FOR YOU, NOT FOR ANYONE

NOT FOR YOU, NOT FOR ANYONE is a strong contender for hardcore release of the year for me. From the minute the minute the intro hits, I find myself captivated. It has already won me over by writing an instrumental track that is worthwhile. It also helps that its particular fascination with 80s hardcore is one I find myself drawn to. The cover of a big boot makes me think of Agnostic Front’s Live at CBGB’s album. I can also make out a bit of Straight Ahead influence as well, all while maintaining its own personality.

Crush Your Soul-S/T

I am unsure how seriously I am supposed to take Crush Your Soul. It is self-referential to the point that many may miss the references, with the cover seeming to be a rip off a Leeway record. There are riffs that show off Jay Peta’s love for heavy hardcore, and almost a fantasy booking of the fabled Merauder recordings with Eddie Sutton. An interview with Grim Up Fanzine seems to support some of my assumptions, mostly starting as a fun project to do with friends. That context ultimately makes it a serviceable and fun hardcore record. Jay’s personality and voice is fully present on the demo But to me it is so close to so many of the other things him and the other members are involved in. It also sometimes gets bogged down by the amount of samples, which I know is part of the appeal. It is just dudes having fun. 

Colossal Man-2024 Promo

The first lines on the Colossal Man promo are ripped from Rival Mob’s song “Hardcore for Hardcore“(“Hardcore for Hardcore, what the fuck else). It is a move that appeals directly to someone like me, feeling like the music version of an anti-big business screed I read in every hardcore zine and news I read right now. Colossal Man has a sense of fun with it, even starting with the sort of late 80s-indebted New York hardcore they are drawing from. It is hard, but Colossal Man is not obsessed with creating the most thudding breakdown ever. I think my favorite part of the promo comes at the end of “Pretender,” featuring what sounds like a commercial for Taco Bell. It is a winking move that highlights where hardcore is at right now. There is an increasing sentiment from lifers about keeping hardcore underground, with many invoking the classic Raybeez line (“I believe hardcore should stay out of big business”). All of that context is not necessary to listen to Colossal Man, but when I hear diatribes about posers and general beef, I can’t help but think about the larger reality of the genre in 2024. I should also mention that Colossal Man has a very fun cover from DYS and got me to finally listen to the maligned second record that found the Boston hardcore band going metal. It is not good.

Demonstration of Power-Many Eyes/Disgrace

Demonstration of Power over the last few years has followed the trajectory of many hyped hardcore bands. Release an EP and a split, and play some crazy-looking shows. That last part is essential, as I only gave them serious consideration after seeing footage from Outbreak the previous year. It can be very easy to just place them under the growing number of mosh metal/metallic hardcore that is ever-present. But listening to the recent promo from Demonstration of Power, a lot more is going on. The vocals have a gurgling drawl that is a bit different than someone who is just trying to recreate Master Killer by Merauder. The breakdowns feel earned, slowly building towards those moments of catharsis. It helps that the recent promo from Demonstration of Power finds them covering Disgrace by Death Threat, whose album Peace and Security is a favorite of mine.

Public Acid-Deadly Struggle

There is plenty of hardcore punk out there that hangs on the ever-familiar d-beat and is best experienced in basements. Public Acid is one of the better ones around and one that I had overlooked until I heard Deadly Struggle. I sometimes struggle with hardcore punk of this style. There is sometimes a lack of dynamics, and the fast parts wash over me. That was my experience with Public Acid on the first few listens. The guitars were almost too trebly, inspiring no feeling out of me. I may not be quite all the way there as others are with loving it, but by my third run of the new EP, certain songs were tapping that feeling that I pine for when listening to hardcore. I could feel my chest lightly palpitating on my couch during the beginning of “End of Pain” as I waited for the feedback to end and the song to begin. It is an example that sometimes the best stuff is not always immediate. 


One thing is apparent before listening to Slug: they love Ohio hardcore. The album is called Ohio, and the instrumental intro track is called “Cleveland.” Dwid Helion of Integrity is even featured on a song. But in listening to the album, I would not necessarily place it in the “Clevo” hardcore lineage that includes bands like Confront or H100s. Slug fits much more in the revivalism of 2000s hardcore that I have heard recently, with some parts feeling as if they could be lifted from one of the Stop and Think demos. Slug doesn’t necessarily reach the heights of their influences; that may be asking too much of any band. I may be giving away my age to say that some of my favorite hardcore ever came from early Lockin Out’ and Painkiller records. But what Slug does excel at is the dynamics that someone like Righteous Jams had, who they even covered on a promo from a couple of years ago. The fast sections of Ohio serve a purpose. That tension serves to make the skank or two-step part more satisfying, making sure the songs don’t bleed into each other and become a wash of noise, even if my parents would disagree with that statement. 

Sinister Feeling-S/T

In a different generation, I could see purists arguing about Sinister Feeling the way powerviolence nerds labeled Weekend Nachos as “fake power violence.” The opening track, “Poisoned Mind,” is a straightforward 24 seconds of blasts and is familiar to anyone who has spent time pouring over the Crossed Out EP. But there is a modern flair, as evidenced by some of their influences listed in a No Echo article. Halfway through the song sold out is a relatively hard breakdown. “HTB” follows a similar trajectory as well. When done well, the fast section into a breakdown is one of my favorite things in music, and Sinister Feeling is relatively competent at it. Now, I just need to see them live.

Street Hassle-Winter 2024 Promo

Street Hassle is part of what seems like a thriving Syracuse hardcore scene. Along with a band like All 4 All, they represent what I would call “capital H hardcore.” It has some remnants of punk, but its influences come from the time in the 80s when metal started to seep into the genre. Think Breakdown, Agnostic Front, and any number of bands whose live sets on WNYU are fodder for all the hardcore nerds out there. I would be interested in hearing Street Hassle in a longer format, as I feel they haven’t quite written anything beyond a solid song or a great part. “Break or Be Broke” is probably the closest they’ve gotten to a great song, with actual lyrics that linger with me.

Reissue/New To Me Corner

Fucked Up/Haymayker-Split (2005)

One unavoidable truth is that the year you got into hardcore can determine so much of your taste. It can determine what you will shrug off and make uninformed comments about. When I found hardcore in the 2010s, I always slotted Fucked Up under “Noisey-core” or hardcore for people who don’t like the genre. But if I talk to people forty and above, the reverence for the band in their early days is imbued with adoration. After reading some issues of Town of Hardcore that spoke glowingly of the band, I decided to give early Fucked Up a real chance. I listened to the Police Seven-inch and a split with Haymaker, another Canadian band with a member who was also in Left For Dead. I could immediately see the appeal. It has some of that roots-82 hardcore going on but is a little more anthemic than just fury. The reviews from that time always come back to comparing them to Negative Approach. The difficulty for me with Fucked Up always lay in the fact that they had a million releases, and their albums were always close to an hour long. But in the context of a ten-minute split, my feelings have changed immensely. Maybe I will dig deeper and give some of their more beloved albums a try this year.

Hugo Reyes  | @hvreyes5

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