Cutthroat LA – Fear By Design

Cutthroat LA based in… yes, Los Angeles, consists of band members who have been active in the hardcore scene for several years. Some members have a background in Downset, a band that’s not that far off when you listen to their debut album Fear By Design. The album is filled with exhilarating songs that combine grooving hardcore, hip hop, and thrash metal. The sound falls somewhere between Downset, Hatebreed (especially in terms of guitar riffs) and Biohazard. It’s no coincidence that Billy from Biohazard handled the production; he must have felt right at home with this music. The man also lends his voice to Rat.

It’s a true feast of recognition and a trip down memory lane to the hardcore of the 1990s and early 2000s. The necessary hardcore clichés are ticked off, including lyrics about friendship and integrity. Is it original? No, but does it matter? Not at all. Because goddamn, the songs are packed with energy and have groove as a common denominator. Each track blasts out of the speakers and has an addictive quality. This happens right from the opener Nothing To Prove, in which the band combines the sounds of Biohazard and Life Of Agony. And that energy doesn’t let up for the rest of the album.

Various style elements are integrated into the sound. You can hear it in Lay Low, which features snippets of clean singing and hip hop. Those hip hop influences are recurring on the album, adding to the variety and they sometimes remind me of E-Town Concrete. Usually it works well, but on Panic the band goes a bit too far, making it all sound a bit too cliché.

All the songs are well-structured, in a dynamic way that allows the band to maintain the energy without sounding constantly frenetic. There’s room for a guitar solo now and then and the tempo is occasionally dialed back, or a film sample acts as a bridge to the climax. This approach makes the heavy sections stand out even more. The band excels at keeping the album lively and the half-hour duration is just enough to remain engaging and to encourage repeated listens.

Lyrically, as mentioned, it mainly revolves around familiar themes like integrity and friendship. A fun aspect is Fool Me, in which the band pays tribute to hardcore bands of the past by including many band names in the lyrics. If the band continues to make albums like this, it won’t be long before Cutthroat LA enjoys the same status as the bands mentioned. Great record!




Demons Run Amok, 2023


  1. Nothing To Prove
  2. Lay Low
  3. Wrong Road
  4. Overthrow
  5. Into The Light
  6. Fool Me
  7. Panic
  8. Blood On My Hands
  9. Press On
  10. Murder Ring


  • Neil Roemer – Vocals
  • Ben Levi – Drums
  • Jason Boccia – Guitar