Release Date: Feb 18, 2013
Record label: Southern Lord Records
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Heavy Metal
In 2011, one of the most destructive feats of technical proficiency I’d heard was spun from the grooves of a four-song 7” from Baptists, a Vancouver d-beat quartet that had taken one of the jazziest approaches to metal crossover hardcore I’d heard with the song, Life Poser. Though the band’s searing onslaught of percussive mayhem and howling guitar strings is enough to knock you on your ass, beneath whatever brutality Baptists attempts to inflict upon your precious ears lay complexity and a very refined musical approach that might seem secondary next to the violence they generate. That being said, the relentlessness and aggro-as-fuck vehemence spewed throughout a four-song stretch might overstay its welcome if expanded into an LP.
Converge are a band who are often imitated, but never duplicated. Unfortunately, those imitations more often irritate than innovate, or even effectively replicate. The Converge influence drips off of Baptists' debut full-length, Bushcraft. Kurt Ballou produced the album and it sounds as if Baptists asked themselves, "WWKBD?" ("What would Kurt Ballou do?") while writing it.
Baptists’ debut is only 28 minutes long. Why? Perhaps to align itself with similarly concise classics like Slayer‘s Reign In Blood or The Dead Kennedys‘ Fresh Fruit For Rotting Vegetables. Or perhaps because if they’d gone on any longer, their drummer would quite possibly have dropped down dead. Baptists are the latest signings to Southern Lord, a record label best known for doom and drone metal artists like Om and Sunn O))), and fittingly, the album opens with a slow, crushing, Sabbath-y riff.
Without doing any disservice to the band, it’s entirely possible to sum up Baptists and their first full-length in a single sentence. The Vancouver, Canada-based outfit play crusty, metallic hardcore, recorded their debut, Bushcraft, at Converge guitarist Kurt Ballou’s famed Godcity studio, and released it on Southern Lord. Those three facts are not so much clues as straightforward cues—there’s nothing cryptic about Bushcraft, or about Baptists.
Baptists wear their influences on their collective sleeves, but the sleeves belong to a shirt that fits. One can't help but pinpoint the Converge and Botch worship throughout Bushcraft, but it's done really fucking aggressively with more d-beats and dissonant riffing than you could swing an axe at. Opener "Betterment" sets a tone of discomfort with feedback amidst sludge-laden diminished riffing.