DECLINE by @starttodayzine
New Music

Straight edge veterans DECLINE discuss important themes of “Broken” LP

3 mins read

Driven by an impassioned message of allyship for the marginalized, anger at injustice toward humans and animals, and a commitment to continual growth through introspection, Chicago straight edge hardcore crew Decline features former members of Haunted Life, Expired Youth, Noose, Bystander, and New Heart, and has been playing raw old-school hardcore reminiscent of bands from the early days of the genre since their formation in 2013.

Following the release of their EP “Own Your Words” in 2018 and a west coast tour, Decline used their time in Covid lockdown wisely and wrote and recorded new material, which culminated in their latest one-sided LP “Broken.” With eight blistering new tracks and a screen-printed B-side, this album showcases Decline’s signature sound and commitment to their message.

And with their recent signing to New Age Records, a label that has made an indelible impact on the hardcore scene, the band is excited to be part of such a storied history alongside other genre greats like Turning Point, Chorus of Disapproval, and Outspoken.

Today, it is our distinct honor to welcome the straight edge veterans of DECLINE, whose roots in the genre stretch back over 25 years, as our special guests. We are beyond pleased to present an exclusive track-by-track commentary for their latest release, the scorching LP entitled “Broken.”


Matt: This song was written in the aftermath of the killing of George Floyd, but is an amalgamation of experiences I’ve had going all the way back to the mid-1990s while forming a Cop Watch patrol with members of Race Traitor. Policing is inherently flawed, and until that system is deconstructed and rebuilt, people of marginalized communities will continue to be brutalized. Unfortunately, most people from the majority are complicit in maintaining this system because they fail to understand the historical, economic, and sociological factors at play.

Thoughts and Prayers

Matt: It is unfathomable to think that I was trained to be an ALICE trainer (Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate), who teaches school staff how to respond to an active shooter situation. Instead of addressing the root of the issue, which is the unbelievably easy access we have to assault weapons, we instead throw millions of dollars toward reactive responses.

DECLINE hardcore

Generativity vs. Stagnation

Matt: This is a reflection of my career as a social worker who has been working with adolescents for over 30 years first in the foster care system and currently in a public therapeutic school. The wordy title is taken from Erik Erikson’s seventh stage of psychosocial development (ages 40-65). In this stage, adults strive to create or nurture things that will outlast them, often through parenting, contributing to the community, or some other positive change.

Empty Cages

Matt: I love animals, so I don’t eat them or support an industry that exploits them.


Chad: We often think the hc scene is this little utopia apart from the rest of the world when often it’s actually just a microcosm of the world many of us fight against. One of the horrific glaring examples is the amount of sexual abuse we hear about in the hc scene, not just from people in the scene, but many band members also. We hear stories about how some guys treat women like conquests where they get what they want and then move on to their next victim not caring about the scars they leave behind as long as they got what they wanted. We have got to be better at speaking up and calling out this behavior no matter who we see it coming from. We must be better.

DECLINE by @meredithgoldbergphotography
DECLINE by @meredithgoldbergphotography

Paper Thin

Chad: Many hc bands get shit for talking about cliche subject matter like being stabbed in the back, friendship, selling out, etc. I wrote the song paper thin when I was thinking one night about how so many people I’ve known over the years were so passionate about being straight edge and or being involved with hc and then one day they’re gone. Now understand, I fully understand that people “grow up” or find other musical interests and that’s fine. What I always found odd is when these people who were so convicted on x,y or z, suddenly and completely change who they were or what they believe based on a new group of friends they might have found. My friendship with people isn’t dependent on listening to hc or being sxe, I would hope my feelings toward them are way deeper than that. However, seeing how easily some can move on from their beliefs and relationships as quickly as they can blink really shows how paper thin their views and friendships were.

Our Time

Matt: There has been an undeniable change in the political landscape of the U.S. since 2016 when the actions of a wanna-be autocrat opened the floodgates of extremism. We’re tired, but we won’t reduce ourselves to their level.


Dad Bod

Matt: In 2005, when Chad (drums), Shariq (guitar), and I were in the band Haunted Life, I wrote the lyrics to “For Maya” for my newborn daughter. Seventeen years later and now with three wonderful daughters, I wanted to write a follow-up.

As for a couple newer Straight edge and or hardcore bands in general to check out, here’s some band we’re digging right now that are worth checking out.Time Heist from Colorado play fast traditional hc, which is definitely more to our likings. Clear Cut from Chico, Ca, Dead to Rights from the UK and Verdugo from Barcelona are also definitely worth checking out.

Previous Story

Review: “Evil Eyez” by California hardcore pack TORENA (DAZE Records)

Next Story

SAY ANYTHING returns with “Psyche!”, first new music since 2019’s would-be swansong