Baptists are one of the more interesting hardcore bands of the current generation. Hailing from Vancouver, they immediately caught the attention of Southern Lord, through which they have released their self-titled debut EP and their two previous full-length records. The sound of the band is direct and straightforward, and at first glance, they seem like they have a singular focus on hardcore. Even though that’s the basis for Baptists’ sound, the band still displays leanings towards the lead work and stylistic tendencies of crust, as well as the distinct melodic sense of metal records.
Returning four years after the excellent Bloodmines, the band’s path of destruction continues with Beacon of Faith of Faith. The crust-infused hardcore perspective of Baptists is still as vibrant as it was four years prior, transmitting an infectious energy through the short bursts of aggression found in the album. “Absolved of Life/Spent Cells” and the title track are instances where the band is at its purest, moving into d-beat territory and exploiting the filthy hardcore groove.
Still, there is a distinct metallic influence that emerges from the lead work. The main theme that opens the album with “Worse Than Hate” features such a moment, with the part adding a melodic touch to the otherwise brutal offering. Baptists understand perfectly well that their music needs to be delivered with energy and urgency, and in the process, they create some volatile and unpredictable tracks, with an immediate and direct progression. Despite the animosity, the record is not devoid of emotion, and it’s in these melodic moments that the band offer their strongest sense of catharsis, be it in the stripped-down ending of “Indigo Child” or the mysterious melodies of “Eulogy Template”.
Apart from the metallic injections, there’s also a sense of experimentation that runs beneath the hardcore structures, which mostly comes from Baptists’ noise rock leanings. Here this is expanded further, with the band molding parts of noise into their progression, as well as featuring sonic enhancements for their more brutal moments, as is the case with the noise creeping in “Absolve of Live/Spent Cells” and the sonic effect appearing in the ending of “Vicarious Trauma”. In a complete manner, “Capsule” embraces the noise rock modus operandi when it comes to structure, and features the venomous, inharmonic touch of the genre.
Even though Baptists might initially appear as having one gear, they feature some very intriguing components to their sound. The technical aptitude of the band is stellar. However, they can keep things under control so as not to overshadow their hardcore aesthetics. Yacyshyn’s drumming is such an element, unleashing some impressive drum patterns, but without breaking the crust spell that Baptists have woven. A further transformation is experienced when the tempo drops and the band seamlessly go into sludge renditions, with the guitars get heavier, the drums become more imposing, and the result is simply breathtaking, in moments like “Capsule”.
In the context of hardcore music Baptists is a different animal, and while the core ideas and structures of Beacon of Faith are solid and very well formed, it’s their tendency to extend their ideas forward that sets them apart. It is a lesson in the controlled chaos that they are unleashing, and they are not many that can do it as masterfully as Baptists.