Baptists – Beacon of Faith (2018) REVIEW

Doesn’t matter how much or how long a hardcore guitarist fights it they’ll eventually either start a metal band or risk having noise rock seizures on state. What happens when you fight it too long? Greg Ginn circa 1986 basically. On their third full-length ‘Beacon of Faith’ Baptists show deeper quake-lines forming in their powerhouse quasi d-beaten hardcore punk foundations as the quietly sludge’d noise rock experimentation of the past chokes down a tub of Creatine and throws a high ankle-kick to the purist’s jaw. I mean sure I’m exaggerating some but personally looking back to the Vancouver, British Colombia quatro’s 2010 beginnings they were only doing as much as they had to to stand out on a bill when they first fired up.

It’d be strange as hell to call Baptists any sort of ‘supergroup’ when they formed but they were almost all from bands you’d recognize if you followed Vancouver hardcore in the 2000’s. I personally didn’t care at all until the release of ‘Bushcraft’ in 2013. At the time I was pretty excited for the ‘next’ thing that fit that hole between the first Kvelertak record and the in-development heavier side of Martyrdöd. I know, wow real underground dude, but if I sound like a metalhead scrounging to find hardcore punk bands that aren’t boring in the 2010’s that is the reality of the situation. Baptists fit the bill and the constant mentions of Cursed and Breach by comparison at the time helped a bit but ultimately ‘Bushcraft’ had a small handful of songs that carried it’s whole. ‘Bloodmines’ in 2014 was the breakthrough and the shake-up that the material needed and they vaulted off the grand reception of their debut with a strong record. This is also where the noise rock influences perked up alongside a greater resemblance of current Swedish d-beat/hardcore. What stuck in the mind? Clearly more their talent for the noisome havoc of tracks like “Vistas” and “Calling”.

After a nearly four year break amidst the interruption of drummer Nick Yacyshyn joining atmo-sludge pillars Sumac. As much as folks tag Baptists with the sludge secondary genre label, I never heard it much at all before. Sludge and noise rock have some of the same dirty art-rock relatives but there’s way more Tad in there than Crowbar for damn sure. Sure, I know you’re eyeballing the actual sludge metal track “Eulogy Template” and shaking your head at me while the atmo-sludge outro “Nostrovia” plays in the background… but really they’ve amped up the noise rocking a bit more. In fact they fart jet fuel from the first to last kick of this album with Yacyshyn‘s drumming performance truly stunning throughout. The hardcore is still the dominant force and you’d still want this band on a bill with Victims, Black Breath or Martyrdöd, but ‘Beacon of Faith’ have given themselves plenty of room to stretch and massage their interpretation of hardcore punk across the four year gap between albums.

The Cursed comparisons/influence make a lot more sense now with tracks like “Capsule” but the tripped-out end of “Vicarious Trauma” is entirely their own. Once I’d skipped through and found all the noise rock riffs, sludge blobs, and Totalitär beats I finally settled in for a few spins and better recognized the same group that put out ‘Bloodmines’ several years ago. The nods to other genres make for a redeeming listen and a fine return for Baptists. The more ‘atmospheric’ moments do drag out the length of the listen and placing a cluster of hardcore tracks at the end does call for some exhaustion beyond the 35 minute mark. But those sort of complaints typically come from my ‘leave that shit on repeat’ habits. ‘Beacon of Faith’ is a worthy successor to ‘Bloodmines’ and improves upon the standout moments of that record in every aspect to the point of glorious excess. If one band had to prove they could have the best of all worlds (metal side project, noise rock seizures, hardcore cred) I’m glad it was Baptists.

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Artist Baptists
Type Album
Released May 25, 2018
BUY/LISTEN from Southern Lord’s Bandcamp! Follow Baptists on Facebook
Genres
Hardcore Punk,
Noise Rock, Sludge Metal

Graves dug with tongues. 3.5/5.0

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