We know D.C. Get our free newsletter to stay in the know.

Iron Cages, Three Steps to Break Free from the Iron Cage Self-released

Flouting hardcore demo tradition, the track with “Intro” in the name doesn’t lead off Iron Cages’ new three-song cassette. While the band has no trouble building the tension and release of that genre staple, lead track “Days Are Numbered” spends just 10 seconds ramping up before plunging into what Three Steps is really all about: pummeling drums, scorching vocals, and meaty guitar at maximum velocity. It doesn’t need much in the way of subgenre triangulation—it’s speed and intensity that’s really just hardcore in its essential form. RIYL: Punch, fastcore/thrashcore (if you must have a subgenre name-drop), moshing

Kombat, In Death We Are All The Same Self-released

Building on two cassettes and an impressive run of chaotic, lightning-fast sets, Kombat’s new 7-inch delivers just under nine minutes of caustic outsider hardcore. Kombat deliver their grim, alienated lyrics with bile-flecked howls, matched by a guitar that’s not so much drenched as immolated by effects pedals, providing metallic and gothic flourish. Propelling them is a rhythm section that ably shifts between drum fill-packed gallops, militant marches, and the occasional pit-clearing lurch.

RIYL: United Mutation, Void, ’80s Midwest hardcore, chorus pedals, creepy-crawl


Diaspora, Demo 2017Self-released

Ace Mendoza (of D.C.’s Pure Disgust and Red Death) sings and plays guitar in this new powerhouse three-piece. Diaspora deliver riff after riff of guitar heroics on top of a tight rhythm section, filling the demo’s six-minute runtime with urgent melodies. Diaspora’s sound and introspective lyrics, grappling with personal identity and upbringing, recall the more emotive turns of mid-’80s hardcore.

RIYL: Articles of Faith, Cro-Mags, The Offenders, melodic/emotional hardcore without the genre baggage

Witchtrial, Demo 2017Self-released

Witchtrial play a stomping style of metal apt to please longhaired headbangers, hardcore punks, and everyone in between. Featuring a dream team lineup with members hailing from D.C.’s Red Death and Genocide Pact alongside New York’s Ajax and Boston’s Firewalker, the demo recalls the best moments of the first black metal records and British punk/metal crossover acts. With a combination of demonic vocals, instantly-memorable riffs, and an impressive rhythm section that sounds dangerous at any speed, Witchtrial likely has something to please even the most sectarian subgenre adherent from the punk and metal worlds.

RIYL: Venom, early Bathory, English Dogs, Amebix, throwing up the horns unironically

Rashōmon, Demo 2017Self-released

Rashōmon released their demo in early February when they played their first shows, but it’s taken a bit for people to get hip. The superb musicianship and lacerating delivery from vocalist Kohei Urakami make Rashōmon’s debut seem like some lost gem from the annals of Japanese hardcore recordings whose sale on Discogs are the closest thing punk offers to a retirement savings plan. The 7-inch reissue does justice to the demo’s tightly-produced recording, from the thundering drums of the intro to the swaggering guitar groove on “死体症候群 (Corpse Syndrome).” Rashōmon ably execute the genre’s traditional d-beat stylings while leaving room for almost psychedelic flourishes, portending well for their upcoming LP.

RIYL: Japanese hardcore bands like L.S.D. and Gauze, studs and sunglasses