There are times for asking questions and taking a measured stance, and times for simply picking a side. In the ongoing cultural and political war against the LGBTQIA community, Milwaukee screamo/post-hardcore group Riotnine makes its position crystal fucking clear. A band bio reads “transgender milwaukee skramz.” (“Skramz” being kinda-sorta the same thing as screamo, dontcha know.) The trio’s debut EP is titled Death Before Detransition. A June 3 record release at Cactus Club will not only serve as a fundraiser for trans justice, but will be preceded by a “queer skate sesh celebrating trans joy and our community.” There’s no “both sides have a point, actually” bullshit here.

Riotnine’s music is equally uncompromising. The four-song Death Before Detransition opens with the blistering and cacophonous “Isolated, Exiled.” Amidst a scalding downpour of emo-leaning guitars and blown-out drums, singer Daniel Calderon screams and howls against the status quo. “Our existence, isolated,” Calderon gasps at song’s end, out of breath. “Our existence, exiled.”

“Eliza” is the arguably record’s strongest track, kicking off with a twinkling emo guitar line but eventually giving way to a barely controlled full-band thrash. Post-punk stops-and-starts and an unlikely late-song change-up only strengthen the track’s power. The title track, meanwhile, boasts an extended acoustic and horn-laden intro before bringing in the noise and throat-shredding vocals. Closer “Skramzgender” is both the EP’s longest (seven-plus minutes) and most accomplished song. Careening from stomping Metallica-esque breakdowns to full-on walls of noise (and everything in between), it puts Riotnine’s musicianship front and center.

Riotnine is part of a new crop of young Milwaukee bands currently packing clubs and house shows on a seemingly nightly basis. (A recent Alternative Press article on the thriving scene—which also includes groups like Bug Moment and Diet Lite—is absolutely worth a read.) It’s among the heavier of the bunch, but it has the chops and the clear-eyed conviction to make questions of genre moot. Ditto with questions of politics. With Death Before Detransition, Riotnine draws a clear line in the sand. It’s up to listeners to pick a side.

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Co-Founder and Editor

Matt Wild weighs between 140 and 145 pounds. He lives on Milwaukee's east side.