New York five-piece Drug Church eloquently describe their music as “the sound garbage makes when thrown off a roof into the dumpster your dickhead boss rented for your underpaying contractor gig”. It’s certainly an…interesting way to describe hardcore punk. It’s an intriguing statement too, and anyone whose interest is piqued is in luck, as second full-length Hit Your Head has just been released.
And from the first listen, it’s clear that at least some of the band’s own description is true. Hit Your Head is pretty annoyingly abrasive most of the time. The main contributor to this is the vocals from Patrick Kindlon – shouty, strained and unlikeable. Although the delivery does seem passionate, a lot of the time it seems like he’s screaming without having done any exercises or training in his life. It’s especially on Aleister, where there’s a shaky, amateurish quality to his voice which is ridiculously offputting.
In fact, everything about the vocals are awful, including what they’re being used to sing about. On the surface, the lyrics seem like the kind of emotional, not quite understandable lyrics boasted by most hardcore bands nowadays. But dig deeper and they’re simply laughable. Take the likes of Green Like Me‘s “green like mould” and “blue like a couch” similies, or the analogy of the all-too-common situation of drinking from a swimming pool, getting your stomach pumped and “vomiting up your life” as described in Big And Shitty. But it’s anomalistic spoken-word closer What that takes the cake, describing, at length, a shopping list. It’d be funny, too, if Kindlon didn’t drone on about avocados and chilli for a tragically endless amount of time.
But there is quite a mixture of techniques and genres explored on Hit Your Head, such as the psychedelic, reverb-heavy intro to Drunk Tank or Park And Ride And Park And Ride‘s almost pop-rock guitar. It’s definitely musically, not lyrically or vocally, where this album has substance, but it’s vastly overshadowed by how atrocious the vocals are. There are interesting guitar licks on Big And Shitty and in Aging Jerk‘s brief instrumental break, but these moments are usually rare. In fact, most guitar parts are pretty basic, as heard in opener Banco Popular, giving the vocals an undeserved spotlight.
Honestly, Hit Your Head just isn’t a good album, and definitely one to avoid if you want to feel, well, comfortable throughout. Drug Church do say they aim to unsettle people and provoke a reaction, but something’s definitely wrong if an album made up of two and a half minute long songs feels like it’s dragging. Controversial acts who do provoke a love-or-hate reaction from audiences do usually have at least some talent though, and unfortunately it seems like there’s hardly any to be found here.
For fans of: La Dispute, Defeater, Single Mothers
Words by Georgia Jackson
‘Hit Your Head’ by Drug Church is out now on No Sleep Records.