Album Review: Drug Church – Drug Church EP




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 year’s demo cassette, Drug Church’s style is more straightforward than Kindlon’s Self Defense Family hybridized artcore and is a far cry from California’s emo punk.

While it’s difficult to separate Drug Church’s material from Kindlon’s 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 Family’s approach centers on extending hardcore’s limitations with melodically oriented and imaginative constructs–elements generally lost among the genre’s 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 Kindlon’s intensified Mike Watt-like cadence but the guest vocals of Touche Amore’s 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, Bolm’s 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 Kindlon’s 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 quintet’s 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”