Formed by Self Defense Family frontman Patrick Kindlon and members of California, Drug Church is set to release its self-titled debut 7-inch EP, a throwback to classic Washington, DC hardcore with some added heavy metal muscle. As evidenced on last years demo cassette, Drug Churchs style is more straightforward than Kindlons Self Defense Family hybridized artcore and is a far cry from Californias emo punk.
While its difficult to separate Drug Churchs material from Kindlons brilliant work with Self Defense Family, it is easier to view this side project as a misleadingly back-to-basics outlet for all involved. Self Defense Familys approach centers on extending hardcores limitations with melodically oriented and imaginative constructs–elements generally lost among the genres bevy of imitators. And while Drug Church certainly considers melody, it accentuates its hardcore tenets more so with metal power riffs, deep grunge bass lines, and alt-rock rhythms.
The band leads off with its strongest track, Mohawk, which offers not Kindlons intensified Mike Watt-like cadence but the guest vocals of Touche Amores Jeremy Bolm. Mohawk is a prime example of how Drug Church, despite its simplified surface, meshes outside rock elements atypical to hardcore or its post-genre brethren. The track is framed by alternating tempos and is colored by squealing Pixies-esque guitar work, lightning-quick transitional drumming, and muddled grunge riffing. Like a smooth rapper, Bolms blistering rhythmic speak-scream keeps pace the whole way through, until the song descends into pseudo-sludge metal turf. Meanwhile, Northway uses similarly swirling guitar parts, this time with a melodic metal twist, amidst Dischord-inspired start-and-stop-style hardcore. Latham Circle plays out like an amplified Art Brut track thanks to its punkish exterior and Kindlons accidental Eddie Argos impression (before the song fades in Big Black immensity).
Contemporary hardcore is rife with bands recycling the same tired combination of speed, volume, and screaming perhaps the effect of an inflexible audience. In just 11 minutes time, the upstate New York quintets EP demonstrates how to stay true to a rigid musical community while incorporating heavier elements of relative outsider music like indie rock, sludge and alt-metal, and grunge.
Essential Tracks: “Mohawk”