Baptists- Baptists

By Chris Dahlberg

Published on Thursday, December 4, 2014

As I get ready to review Baptists’ newest record Bloodmines, it seems appropriate to go back and check out their earlier releases that got lost in my endless sea of albums. Their self-titled 7” from a few years back seems like a good starting point, as it’s the release that Southern Lord used to introduce the Vancouver hardcore band with. It’s 12 minutes of aggressive riffs and angry vocals that have a hint of the slower, sludgier direction the group would expand upon on their albums, and while at this point Baptists hadn’t completely hit their stride there is still enough here to warrant a listen.

There are four songs in total, and the instrumentalists kick things off with the type of fast paced, punchy riffs and a gritter, dirtier sound that is reminiscent of bands like Cursed and Trapped Them. Everything flies by at a mile a minute, but there’s a continual sense of change as the guitars and drums never seem to stay in one place for too long and seamlessly transition from one idea to the next. “Bachelor Degree Burn” is where the slower tempos and sludgier tonality comes into play, and it’s the longest track that Baptists has to offer on this EP. The guitars have a heavier, thicker sound during the course of this song and the jagged edges of the leads give off a bit of a noise rock vibe that helps the group to be a bit more distinguishable from your average hardcore or crust act. With that being said though, this is the type of release where my focus continually falls on this song and the other three all kind of blur together. That’s not to say that the faster pieces simply repeat each other, as there are a lot of different riffs and transitions in each of them, but there’s a similarity to their construction that makes it a bit difficult to truly pick them out. The potential was evident on this release though, and this is an issue that the band would quickly overcome with Bushcraft.

Vocalist Andrew Drury has an aggressive scream that doesn’t let up for a single second of this EP’s runtime. His pitch comes in at a mid-range, not quite heading into shrieking/screamo territory or extremely gruff hardcore growling/yelling, but still offering the sheer amount of abrasiveness that works so well in this type of music. Drury’s performance has been given the spotlight, as the way Baptists had their material puts him front and center, and that was definitely the right decision. Occasionally some backing screams are thrown into the mix, and the pitch is almost a dead ringer for Nate Newton from Converge/Doomriders. There’s something about this particular screaming style that has continued to pull me in every time I hear anything from Baptists, and it appears that this has been the case from the very beginning.

Baptists’ debut EP is worth it for the slow burning groove and sheer weight the band offers on “Bachelor Degree Burn,” but the other three tracks don’t stand out quite as much. That’s not to say the faster numbers are throwaway, but they don’t have as many distinguishable moments that one might pick out while they’re listening. Not necessarily a mandatory pick-up, but it’s clear that Baptists already had a solid foundation in place and some different influences from some of the others in the genre when they wrote these four songs, and they would go on to truly take things to the next level with Bushcraft a few years later.

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