Before we divulge in to the depths of this review, let us start with this brief story dating back eight months ago. Last May whilst attending and reviewing Groezrock Festival in Belgium, this writer happened to have some spare time and found a band playing at the Impericon Stage on the last day of the festival whom he had not heard of . In the review that was given of said band’s performance, it was quoted as “one of the biggest surprises of the entire festival” – this band was called Drug Church.
An unhinged yet highly energetic and punk as f**k quintet from Albany, New York- Drug Church just happened to be one of those incredible diamonds in the rough that more people should have been paying attention to. After touring worldwide in support of 2013’s frenetic and critically acclaimed debut album Paul Walker, it would only be a matter of time until Drug Church entered the studio to follow up from this… and they deliver with a deranged slice of brilliance called Swell.
Swell is a five song EP in which Drug Church harnesses inspiration from different ends of the alternative music spectrum. On songs like ‘Ghost Dad’, ‘Zero Zero’, and lead single ‘But Does It Work?’, there are elements of alternative rock greatness in the vein of Pixies, Fugazi, and also some very grunge-like flange guitar moments in the midst of the overdriven wall of sound. On the other hand tracks like the adrenaline fuelled ‘Mall SWAT’ and ‘Work-Shy’, the spirit and sound of hardcore punk bands like Fucked Up, and Husker Du are very much present.
What Drug Church do best though is not being able to sound like any of their peers, and channel all of their influences which is uniquely recognizable compared to most hardcore punk bands these days. Patrick Kindlon’s lyrics are stark yet amusingly pitch black with his topical humour at times, and vocally he sounds like that of a punk rock preacher the likes of Black Francis would be grinning in the corner and nodding his head in approval.
The production on Swell, which was overseen by Washington D.C. producing legend J. Robbins, is near enough flawless and should be given much credit where it is due by all means as well. However if there was any criticisms to note with Swell – that lies with its brevity- five tracks is not enough for how good this is!- and its formulaic musicality which Drug Church do so well.
But in all reality, this is irrelevant because Swell is just an intensely awesome EP, and a thoroughly enjoyable listen. Although is this a taster of things to come for their sophomore album to be released? Possibly. But if their next album is to sound anything near as good as Swell is, then we are all ears and happy bunnies all around. If music is the drug, then lets all go to the Drug Church and heal our hurts!