Bushcraft (Southern Lord)
By Mike Delano
I know it’s anathema for a record review to quote from PR materials, but there are only so many hours in the day and I don’t feel like spending one of them coming up with a clever way to describe Baptists‘ sound when the “punk-fueled hardcore” description from their press release will do nicely. This Vancouver crew sounds raw and aggressive on their debut, Bushcraft, careening and crashing through 11 songs that bring to mind a more primal Refused or something from the Deathwish label (which, considering this album was recorded at Godcity studios by Converge guitarist Kurt Ballou, shouldn’t be a huge shocker). Most importantly, they’ve got the key ingredient for any debut: Passion. They tear into this material, like the roaring “Think Tank Breed” and “In Droves,” and at times it sounds like everyone is scrambling to keep up with the superspeed drumming, the energy of which seems to kick the entire band into the next gear. I also like that Baptists don’t seek to simply numb the listener with speed and noise: “Still Melt” slows things down to great effect, and even though the vocals aren’t nearly good enough to carry the sparser material of “Soiled Roots,” at least they’re trying some different stuff. It’ll be interesting to see if on album #2 they play it safe and double down on their more blistering material, or if they explore some of these more adventurous avenues.