(Southern Lord Records, 2014)
Southern Lord was formed by Greg Anderson (and Stephen O’Malley) whom has played in his time from Hardcore bands to Doom bands, and it’s no wonder his label has distinguished itself as THE underground label (at least in the States) to release the most classy and experimental Doom and Drone, and has many of the best modern Blackened and Crusty Hardcore bands on it’s roster. From these acts Baptists from Vancouver seem to me as the most interesting at the moment.
Baptists delivered their last awesome full-length album “Bushcraft” last year, and this new album continues along the same paths. What we have here is a short (under 30 mins) but highly intense Crusty Hardcore masterpiece.
Produced by Kurt Ballou (whom has produced too many quality records to name here), there is an evident “artistic” Converge-like feel to some aspects of the album, but Baptists tend to go along more traditional Punk and Hardcore lines.
The guitars are quite clear and bright, but with enough distortion to give the Crusty feeling. The riffs are made mostly of quite original and melodic strikes, as well as the traditional Punk-rock riffing, with typical Crust leads at times to bring the old school feeling. The bass is so powerful it sounds like out of a Drony Doom band on parts where it is the only instrument.
The drums pound with power, each kick and snare hit can be felt. No wonder Dave Grohl has named the drummer of the band (Nick Yacyshyn) his “favorite new drummer by far”. The drums deal mostly in D-Beat and Hardcore battery with slower parts in between the faster beatings.
The vocals are true Punk Hardcore shouting straight from the heart, not too high or low in voice, not too exposed or out in the mix, but very striking and powerful. They act very monotonous in the scales, but extremely upscale and skilfully performed. You can actually see the vocalist screaming in your minds eye.
Sometimes the music has an European feel, sometimes the American Hardcore influence shines clearly through. Not many Metal influences are apparent, which is perhaps rare these days, as the music is relying more on traditional approach, like bands such as Ceremony did on their album “Rohnert Park”. The music also has a dark-greenish feel to it, like pictured in the woodsy fir-filled album artwork.
For all fans of intensive Crust and Hardcore, old and new. This album delivers all the way!
9/10 – Antti Mikonmäki