In the Face of War: Dark Underground of Kokomo

Small town Indiana has a dark underground. On the surface, the Hoosier state looks like a land of blue skies and nodding stalks of corn, friendly neighbors and tractor pulls. Underneath this tranquil skin, however, lies a beast that thrives in basements, in dimly lit bars, in empty warehouses on Friday and Saturday night. Here, teenagers and twentysomethings from Indianapolis, Clarksville, Franklin, and other small towns in Indiana come to see the primal scream that is Indiana’s hardcore, metal, and punk scene.

Kokomo, Indiana band In the Face of War is another brightly burning flame in the thriving Indiana hardcore scene, a group of five determined youths who have been tearing down conventions for six years running. In the Face of War is a hardcore band, while fellow Kokomo group The Blood Reckoning is a death metal band. The difference may seem trivial to someone not in the scene, but there are some very concrete gaps between the genres. Hardcore music is an offspring of punk that, like death metal, features high speed drumming, chugging, down tuned guitar riffs, and guttural vocals, but in general hardcore focuses more on themes, issues, and political statements via lyrical poetry, while metal is generally about the breakneck musicianship and raw power. Other Indianapolis bands like Gwen Stacy and The Goodnight Horizon meld the two into a genre called metalcore, but In the Face of War most easily aligns with the hardcore genre.

Video of Indianapolis area band In the Face of War doing drum tracking for their latest album


Hardcore music spiked in popularity in the early 2000’s, but nine years later, some would say that the genre is becoming tired and repetitive. However, In the Face of War spits in the eye of such claims. Their music, while still retaining tried and true hardcore elements like screaming vocals and complex rhythms, has a fresh and unique sound that is hard to replicate. Their lyrics are full of vigor and crushed ideals, and their anthemic, call and response background vocals are reminiscent of the “oozin ah’s” present in early Bad Religion albums, a technique that brings to mind an angry, enlightened mob calling for revolution. In Indianapolis music, In the Face of War is a band that will stir up a crowd and never let go.

A video of Indianapolis area band In the Face of War performing “For a Better Tomorrow”


Originally just a way to pass the time, In the Face of War has persevered through member changes, van breakdowns, and the stress of touring around the Midwest. Currently, the group is made up of five members: Ben Sutton on screaming vocals, C.J. Sutton on guitar and lead vocals, Nate Black on guitar, Mike Wilson on bass, and Matt Nelson on drums. Together, these five warriors promote the band, breathe life into the band, and make the band’s music their lives. According to the band’s website, keeping the band alive “hasn’t always been fun. It hasn’t always been cheap. But working through the hard times…has solidified their passion and desire to push boundaries of hardcore.” It’s an ideal all the members of In the Face of War hold true: not to be satisfied to mosh in the bootprints of those who came before, but to burn and pillage their own trail.

Video of Indianapolis area band In the Face of War covering “Everlong” by the Foo Fighters in Kokomo, Indiana


Over the years, In the Face of War has released three full length albums: 2002’s Self Reliance is Self Destruction, 2004’s Live Forever or Die Trying, and 2006’s We Make Our Own Luck. In addition, they recorded a demo in 2004 that was released on 7″ vinyl by current label Init Records and a split album with The Bowels of Judas in 2003. Currently, In the Face of War is anticipating the August 2009 release of their fourth full length LP, Everything You’ve Heard is True. Through each album, the musical and lyrical evolution of the band is evident. On the tracks up on the band’s MySpace page, it’s clear that In the Face of War is attempting to transcend their genre and destroy the box.

Video of Kokomo band In the Face of War performing live at ES Jungle in Indianapolis


In the Face of War is familiar with playing shows all around the country. The band has played with hardcore legends Haste the Day, Stretch Arm Strong, and As I Lay Dying. They have played at venues as diverse as the Emerson Theatre, the Murphy Building, the Ball State University Student Center, and the Harrison Center for the Arts. In the Face of War has been through many possibly band killing situations, but through it all they’ve managed to remain strong and focused. It looks as though In the Face of War will continue to give residents of Kokomo a reason to pay homage to Indiana’s dark underground.

For more information on In the Face of War, including upcoming show dates, a full bio, and merch, please visit the band’s homepage.

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