As the District’s resurgent hardcore scene continues to roil with exciting new bands, trying to pick a favorite in the bunch feels beside the point. But twist my arm and I’ll go with the group that most violently twists my brain: They’re called Kombat, and their songs are completely searing, yet mercifully succinct. I’ve yet to catch a Kombat performance that lasts longer than 10 minutes. Who knows what prolonged exposure might do to your head?
The quartet’s intensity is funneled through the throat of frontman D.J. Doroheng, who takes aim at typical punk-song targets — brainless consumerism, heartless militarism, gutless gentrification — as if society’s enduring malfeasances only recently started melting his skin. And while bassist Rodrigo Tapia and drummer Brendan Reichhardt continuously boot-stomp the gas pedal, it’s the corrosive guitar-work of Daniel Peña that gives these songs their strange, acidic curves.
There aren’t any wheels being reinvented here, but Kombat is making the strongest argument that this new wave of D.C. hardcore isn’t just dead-end revivalism. There’s something mysterious to be felt in this band’s fury, and it leaves a distinct burn.