Music

Baptists: Bushcraft

Bushcraft harnesses the energy of predatory punk and metal, and channels that into compendious, blistering bombardments. As far as metallic hardcore goes, it ticks all the compulsory boxes.


Baptists

Bushcraft

Label: Southern Lord
US Release Date: 2013-02-19
UK Release Date: 2013-02-18
Amazon
iTunes

Without doing any disservice to the band, it's entirely possible to sum up Baptists and their first full-length in a single sentence. The Vancouver, Canada-based outfit play crusty, metallic hardcore, recorded their debut, Bushcraft, at Converge guitarist Kurt Ballou's famed Godcity studio, and released it on Southern Lord. Those three facts are not so much clues as straightforward cues--there's nothing cryptic about Bushcraft, or about Baptists. The band's 7-inch (which sold out swiftly) got the band an initial rush of attention when released on Southern Lord in 2011. Baptists fit right in with the label's stable of crusty artists--such as Nails, All Pigs Must Die and Wartorn--by making similarly dissonant, distorting and infectious anthems.

Still, don't let Baptists' uncomplicated approach fool you into thinking they're unimaginative. They’re bristling with armaments, and show exactly how to deliver that payload with precision. The band makes grinding and feedback-soaked crossover noise, with hardcore providing the uppercut and metal delivering the kick in the teeth. It's fast, ceaselessly nerve-shredding, and leaves carnage in its wake like a derailed freight train. Tracks off Bushcraft, such as "Betterment", "Think Tank Breed", "Bullets" and "In Droves", are all velocity, vitality and uninterrupted ire--grimy riffs and martial drumming in a bare-knuckled, bloody fist fight.

Bushcraft's 11 songs owe their brain-battering momentum to bands such as Tragedy, Cursed, and, as everyone operating in Baptists' pugnacious spectrum does, Converge. In that sense, everything about Bushcraft is entirely familiar, albeit in a comforting rather than derivative way. That familiarity is, of course, based on metallic hardcore's self-imposed limitations, where chaos and intensity are privileged over any graduated escalation, and that very relentlessness is both an asset and a liability on albums from the sub-genre.

When albums work well, bands allow their individuality to be revealed in dynamic, quick-fire and captivating shifts in sound. But when it all goes wrong, it's simply one long smear of generic d-beats and buzzsaw guitars. Thankfully, Baptists recognize that, although fans do require constant clobbering, such aggression doesn't have to come at the expense of smart songwriting. At its best, metallic hardcore is perfect masochistic catharsis, but there's more than one way to wield the cudgel. As the most interesting bands in metallic hardcore have proven time and time again, it's the hooks, rhythmic glitches and split-second, mucky breakdowns that keep the tunes engaging.

Baptists succeed in ensuring Bushcraft remains engaging, thanks, in part, to drummer Nick Yacyshyn. His work provides the unyielding vertebrae of the album, and his dexterous fills propel the songs forward. But guitarist Danny Marshall is the prime reason that Bushcraft rises above the mire of metallic hardcore acts. Marshall mixes heads-down abrasiveness with paroxysms of frenetic variations, and though they may only be momentary, the spasmodic flickers on tracks like "Crutching Trails" and "Soiled Earth" add color to the album, granting crucial shadings to its darkness.

The sludge heart of "Still Melt" might draw in the sickening heave of Jesus Lizard, and the math-rock grind of "Russian Circles" has a Botch-like taint, but Marshall's infusion of a broader range of influences allows the songs to have far more flavor than simple bitterness. This gives vocalist Andrew Drury more varied terrain to spit and snarl over, and makes sure Bushcraft has a distinct enough personality to not simply ape what has come before.

What also counts in Bushcraft’s favor is its brevity. At 27 minutes, the album is perfectly timed to deliver its hits, while still leaving room for wanting more. In fact, the hunger to push replay as soon as the album ends is strong, and Kurt Ballou’s characteristic production plays its role in that desire. As he seemingly manages to do with every band that enters his studio, Ballou has captured all the filthiness and raw power of Baptists. He amplifies the band's elbow-greased fortitude, and ensures all the instrumentation has the hazard and stench of an untamed grease fire.

Bushcraft harnesses the energy of predatory punk and metal, and channels that into compendious, blistering bombardments. As far as metallic hardcore goes, it ticks all the compulsory boxes. The album is barbaric enough for those seeking ear-splitting riffs, percussion, and bass from hell, but it's also clever enough for those wanting to be punished in a more profound manner. In all, it's simply an album you want to be pummeled by again and again, and there's no finer compliment to give it than just that.

7


Music


Books


Film


Television


Recent
Music

'Can You Spell Urusei Yatsura' Is a Much Needed Burst of Hopefulness in a Desultory Summer

A new compilation online pulls together a generous helping of B-side action from a band deserving of remembrance, Scotland's Urusei Yatsura.

Music

Jess Cornelius Creates Tautly Constructed Snapshots of Life

Former Teeth & Tongue singer-songwriter Jess Cornelius' Distance is an enrapturing collection of punchy garage-rock, delicate folk, and arty synthpop anthems which examine liminal spaces between us.

Books

Sikoryak's 'Constitution Illustrated' Pay Homage to Comics and the Constitution

R. Sikoryak's satirical pairings of comics characters with famous and infamous American historical figures breathes new and sometimes uncomfortable life into the United States' most living document.

Music

South African Folk Master Vusi Mahlasela Honors Home on 'Shebeen Queen'

South African folk master Vusi Mahlasela pays tribute to his home and family with township music on live album, Shebeen Queen.

Music

Planningtorock Is Queering Sound, Challenging Binaries, and Making Infectious Dance Music

In their work, Planningtorock emphasizes "queering sound and vision". The music industry has its hierarchies of style, of equipment, of identities. For Jam Rostron, queering music means taking those conventions and deliberately manipulating and subverting them.

Music

'History Gets Ahead of the Story' for Jazz's Cosgrove, Medeski, and Lederer

Jazz drummer Jeff Cosgrove leads brilliant organ player John Medeski and multi-reed master Jeff Lederer through a revelatory recording of songs by William Parker and some just-as-good originals.

Books

A Fresh Look at Free Will and Determinism in Terry Gilliam's '12 Monkeys'

Susanne Kord gets to the heart of the philosophical issues in Terry Gilliam's 1995 time-travel dystopia, 12 Monkeys.

Music

The Devonns' Debut Is a Love Letter to Chicago Soul

Chicago's the Devonns pay tribute the soul heritage of their city with enough personality to not sound just like a replica.

Music

Jaye Jayle's 'Prisyn' Is a Dark Ride Into Electric Night

Jaye Jayle salvage the best materials from Iggy Pop and David Bowie's Berlin-era on Prisyn to construct a powerful and impressive engine all their own.

Music

Kathleen Edwards Finds 'Total Freedom'

Kathleen Edwards is back making music after a five-year break, and it was worth the wait. The songs on Total Freedom are lyrically delightful and melodically charming.

Television

HBO's 'Lovecraft Country' Is Heady, Poetic, and Mangled

Laying the everyday experience of Black life in 1950s America against Cthulhuian nightmares, Misha Green and Jordan Peele's Lovecraft Country suggests intriguing parallels that are often lost in its narrative dead-ends.

Music

Jaga Jazzist's 'Pyramid' Is an Earthy, Complex, Jazz-Fusion Throwback

On their first album in five years, Norway's Jaga Jazzist create a smooth but intricate pastiche of styles with Pyramid.

Music

Finding the Light: An Interview with Kathy Sledge

With a timeless voice that's made her the "Queen of Club Quarantine", Grammy-nominated vocalist Kathy Sledge opens up her "Family Room" and delivers new grooves with Horse Meat Disco.

Books

'Bigger Than History: Why Archaeology Matters'

On everything from climate change to gender identity, archaeologists offer vital insight into contemporary issues.

Film

'Avengers: Endgame' Culminates 2010's Pop Culture Phenomenon

Avengers: Endgame features all the expected trappings of a superhero blockbuster alongside surprisingly rich character resolutions to become the most crowd-pleasing finalés to a long-running pop culture series ever made.

Music

Max Richter's 'VOICES' Is an Awe-Inspiring and Heartfelt Soundscape

Choral singing, piano, synths, and an "upside-down" orchestra complement crowd-sourced voices from across the globe on Max Richter's VOICES. It rewards deep listening, and acts as a global rebuke against bigotry, extremism and authoritarianism.

Music

DYLYN Dares to "Find Myself" by Facing Fears and Life's Dark Forces (premiere + interview)

Shifting gears from aspiring electropop princess to rock 'n' rule dream queen, Toronto's DYLYN is re-examining her life while searching for truth with a new song and a very scary-good music video.

Music

JOBS Make Bizarre and Exhilarating Noise with 'endless birthdays'

Brooklyn experimental quartet JOBS don't have a conventional musical bone in their body, resulting in a thrilling, typically off-kilter new album, endless birthdays.

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews

Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.