Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Iron Reagan - Worse than Dead / Baptists - Bushcraft

Here goes another double-barreled review, this time for no other reasons than these two records arriving in the mail together and both getting under my skin instantly.

First up is Worse than Dead, the debut full length from Iron Reagan on A389 Recordings. The band features members of Municipal Waste, Darkest Hour and Supression, and if last year's The Fatal Feast was the Waste in space, then this is the survivors returning to earth. The album shreds without respite through 19 tracks of sharp, slamming thrash/crossover/hardcore.

There are no bones made about this being another 80s throwback in both attitude and approach - just look at the name and artwork. But the serious chops displayed in relentless short bursts that explode out of Worse than Dead ensure that it's not just a hollow trip through now very familiar nostalgic territory. The songs get straight to the point with a rapid fire succession of hooks and mini-breakdowns you can easily grab hold of, while the unexpected transitions grab your collar and knock you senseless from riff to riff. Tony Foresta's unmistakable vocal delivery cuts loud and clear over the festivities as he rages furiously, not about partying and horror movies, but about gun control and nutters preaching the end of the world.

Nonetheless, there is still a snarling sense of humour present throughout the album (they titled the sole instrumental track "I Ripped that Testament a New Asshole"), and Iron Reagan are clearly having a riot playing this stuff. Put simply, this record bangs, and wants to be played again.

Next up are Vancouver's Baptists with their debut full length, Bushcraft, on Southern Lord. While also being a very straightforward record in intent, there is nothing funny at all about the raw nerves this bastard deliberately seizes on and plucks at. Yes, Southern Lord's recent focus on punk, crust and hardcore makes it tempting to lump Baptists in with bands like Nails, Dead in the Dirt, Heartless, etc. Converge are also often cited as a point of reference, and Kurt Ballou did record this. But on listening to their self titled 7" a couple of years ago, I thought this band really stood out, and Bushcraft holds true to that.

From the outset, it feels like there's a vacuum sucking you into the middle of the music, which is both a sign of the top-notch recording job and a reflection of the desolate aggression Baptists capture. The all out pounding of drums batters indiscriminately and vindictively from the near side of the beat, while the devastating bass adds stomach churning weight to the songs' constantly driving momentum. The guitars usually hang back a bit, free to tear between neck breaking chainsaw riffs, controlled feedback and quirky, noisy lines that amplify the brooding sense that something bad is happening. And to round it all out, the astonishingly bitter vocals spit out every ounce of disdain that could possibly exist in each syllable of each lyric, which is especially evident in the "slow" track, "Soiled Roots".

Put that all together and you end up with a remarkably brutal record that has enough breathing space to highlight the band's unique characteristics without trading off any of their music's intensity.


1 comment:

  1. Iron fucken reagan awsome as shit. this is the stuff i love.