Baptists are back.
From Vancouver, Baptists are a band who have quite a bit of kudos from people who dip in and out of hardcore, due to the Southern Lord affiliation.
The first album was one I enjoyed, but it received mixed reviews.
‘Bloodmines’ was fine but slightly underwhelming.
And with the gap of four years since ‘Bloodmines’, they really need to deliver a solid LP.
The cover is so fucking evocative.
In a way, it reminds me of a particular scene in Neil Jordan’s first film, ‘Angel’, which doesn’t end well for those particular characters.
While the previous two album covers featuring woods, but with a sinister air about them, this one is more serene. Much more esoteric.
Look at the way the fog and grey sky are captured. Something had infected the woods, but what is it?
Will the answer be found on record?
‘Worse than Hate’ opens up side one, and is an unusual opener in that it’s mid-tempo and angular beginning don’t allow the listener a chance to settle in, they way both a turbo charged track or a slow, tribal one would.
It’s a little unsettling, due to the wall of noise that engulfs the track, lack of something musical to hold onto and an abrupt running time.
However, ‘Beacon of Faith’ gives us some From Ashes Rise style worship.
The thundering d-beats and four note guitar line…glorious. On first listen, I genuinely thought the whole song was going to collapse, due to the kinda haphazard vibe. But, as the track progresses, the bass comes in and steadies everything.
‘Gift Taker’ carries on this forward momentum. Probably the best song on this album, as it really doesn’t let go of the listener as it thunders ahead, oblivious to anything.
‘Capsule’ is a reflective, almost Jesus Lizard, type number with tribal influences on the drumming. Not a bad song, but the slower pace so soon kind of kills the momentum of the record somewhat. And this has a knock on effect for the rest of the album, as we start going into the more extended songs with bits of post rock in the riffing and the changing tempos.
Truthfully, none of them are as exciting as the first three songs. In isolation, they’re pretty good but, in the context of what has come before, they kind of pale in comparison.
‘Nostrovia’ is the slow, atmospheric closer that’s quite commonplace nowadays with bands of this ilk. There’s power behind the drumming, but the picked chords are pretty standard.
There is a nice moment when it sounds like there’s going to be a choir making an appearance, but it turns out to be a guitar line. At 2:10, it’s not long enough to build up an atmosphere and ends the album a little unsatisfactorily.
Produced by Converge’s Kurt Ballou, it’s what you’d expect to hear from a modern hardcore album: thick and heavy riffage, scuzzy basslines, crashing drums and throat shredding vocals. Ballou knows how to capture a band and has a certain sound that is instantly recognisable.
On ‘Beacon of Faith’, this production is probably what saves the record from mediocrity.
The power on display is irresistible, and just about carries the album through its uneven patches. However, truthfully, even the good songs aren’t particularly memorable.
So, it’s absolutely not the best hardcore record you’ll hear in 2018, but it does the job in its own way and I suspect that the songs are best served in the live arena.
Just don’t expect to be spinning it in six months time.
2.5 / 5 – Christopher Owens ::: 03/05/18