Drug Church – Hygiene

fucked up one day review

Drug Church is a bit like an inversion of vocalist Patrick Kindlon’s other band, Self Defense Family, who through gallows humor and surreal experimentation have cultivated a niche all their own. Drug Church, bred as a purely original and wholly individual project, stands in many ways as the opposite conceptually, adhering to a menagerie of genre fusions, but somehow always centering back on the bent note, aggressive tempo and raucous percussion of hardcore punk. 

Hygiene, their fourth LP, is a eureka moment in real time, an integration of how Kindlon and crew explore a soundscape of pulverized beauty, where ideas sometimes purposeful or purposeless rise and fall in complete unity. The band operates ostensibly within a punk or hardcore sound but operate with a refinement that borders on obsessive, with messes of frantic chords careening over soaring harmonies on tracks like “Fun’s Over.” Kindlon’s vocals are detached in the coolest and slyest of manners, yet braced for beveling anguish to be spit through his teeth. It’s a work of coiled, taut, muscular hardcore that doesn’t deny its emotive capacity, nor cover it up with pummeling bravado. Its ability to simmer and escalate functions largely because of its push/pull between honesty and irony in equal measure. 

Yet, Kindlon’s lyricism, which has always flirted with stream of consciousness to an extent, always lands squarely back in the fold, here presenting a narrator made of equal parts frustration, power, and acceptance: “Chasing moments and hoping they invoke hits hope is all you’ve got/ Stale love sad art sold for parts ankle traps and leg caught/…There’s so few reasons to prostrate yourself at the feet of all these fools” No doubt one can see explicitly where Kindlon’s writing is coming from, the album’s themes overlap with one another in a fusion of raw, ceaseless experience.

This same experience of “first thought, best thought” lyricism emerges in unexpected ways throughout the album. Which at times does feel completely emergent from the consciousness of the band, closer to a high octane, intimately designed live recording in portions. Incandescent and slippery riffs from Nick Cogan and Cory Galusha somehow never manage to defang any pop potential, as among taut bouts of reverb, every line from every harmony hangs firmly in the air. 

All of which wouldn’t be possible without the immaculate production of Jon Markson, which does impressive lifting to elevate the album and in turn, hardcore more generally. Cleaving forth from that same experimental mindset are tracks like “Detective Lieutenant,” a testament to the production as every vocal track is layered and rendered with utmost volume, passed back between channels as a watery whisper and a steadfastly hyper-clear delivery, while bleary instrumentation leads into choking and throttling percussion. 

It’s not all cutting edge experimentation. “Piss & Quiet” is far from any cutting edge dynamic. It leans so heavily into classic, anthemic, ever-threatening pit soundtrack classics that it would be easy to convince listeners that the track exists as an outlier by example. Presumably, it isn’t. It’s just a hefty, crushing blow to the jugular—nothing less and nothing more. 

Hygeine is hardcore album with conviction, with a surplus of passion. As surprisingly warm as it is propulsive, it easily stands as a reference point for how vitality and thoughtfulness in both production and ambition belong in the space of hardcore and other realms of heavy music.

Label: Pure Noise

Year: 2022

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