Written by: AP on 17/11/2014 21:50:53

Once renowned as the go-to house for all manner of slow experimental metal, the Los Angeles, CA based record label Southern Lord has been embroiled in a process of repertoire diversification in recent years, bringing aboard an array of U.S. style black metal, hardcore and crust artists such as the subject of this review, the Vancouver, BC resident Baptists. These traders of vicious hardcore have been housed there virtually since their inception in January, 2010; and with two EPs (both released that same year) as well as two studio albums (2013’s “Bushcraft” and this latest outing “Bloodmines”) already to their name, suffice it to say that Baptists have kept themselves busy.

But signs of their young age are nonetheless prevalent across the record, which presents itself more as an enthusiastic foray into a genre for which the musicians share a collective love, than an album by which Baptists define a unique identity. The idea underlying the vast majority of the 11 tracks that constitute “Bloodmines” is familiar: the songs rarely clock much past 2 minutes, attempting to pack as much chaotic, Converge inspired onslaught into their brevity as possible whilst leaving melodic touches the lowest priority. That is the formula to which the opening quartet “Chamber”, “Wanting”, “String Up” and “Closed Ports” subscribes - regrettably with little differentiation between them, let alone little opportunity to divulge a greater purpose in them than to channel the band’s burning rage. The promotional material that accompanies “Bloodmines” promises ”genuine, raw emotion”, yet too often it misses that mark through full frontal aggression, and fails to leave a lasting impression.

Not so when Baptists do opt for a more nuanced approach though, and herein lies the remedy which keeps the band from lapsing into total oblivion. The trudging "Vistas" distinguishes itself with an intriguing juxtaposition of bassy, dredging low end churn and an unsettling, disharmonious, and constantly morphing lead melody; while the title track boasts very Converge-esque usage of a quirky palm muted riff to drive its message across with a semi-clean vocal style more customary to classic hardcore punk than this rage hardcore of which most of the album consists. In the rhythmically diverse "Calling", Baptists flash their sludge influences, and, admittedly, the dissonant lead running through the otherwise furious core of "Festered" has a certain allure about it as well.

So despite much of "Bloodmines" tending toward frenzy and exasperation, the record is far from a wreck. Cacophony can be forged into an art form, as Converge time and time again have shown; by lacing it with nuances both subtle and overt, and introducing to it elements of memorabilia, be it an inspired melody or solo, a scream so ferocious it brands into one's cerebrum, or the atypical use of rhythm. When Baptists do succeed in harnessing such concepts, they are undeniably enticing. But there is too little of it here to form a robust impression of "Bloodmines" as a whole.


Download: Vistas, Festered, Bloodmines, Calling
For the fans of: All Pigs Must Die, Dead in the Dirt, The Secret
Listen: Facebook

Release date 13.10.2014
Southern Lord

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