Release Date: Oct 21, 2014
Record label: Drag City
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Noise-Rock
Review Summary: A ferocious record that deftly coalesces noise rock with early grunge and psychedelic flourishes.Regardless of a genre the best artists are capable of finding new ways to alternate their sound while retaining artistic integrity. Baltimore quartet Dope Body mastered their insanely dynamic brand of noise rock on 2012's Natural History. While the genre's signature scuzzy stylings remained intact, the quartet's fixation on funk and quirky grooves made the songs all the more vibrant.
Baltimore-based quartet Dope Body eventually took their brooding, muscular blasts of noise rock from scuzzy basement shows to the world at large, slowly gaining international renown for their messy riffs, barely hanging together rhythms, and aggressive live shows. 2012’s Natural History was the band’s second album and first for indie mainstay Drag City. Third album Lifer continues that album’s gnarled tendencies, offering up blurry washes of ghastly rock that have more in common with '90s metal-leaning grunge acts than the sometimes artsy punk undercurrents that wander in and out of Dope Body's sound.
'90s alt-rock bands with notable guitar work (Soundgarden, Rage Against the Machine) come to mind while listening to Dope Body's third album, Lifer, but their scuzzy rock also incorporates classic and psych rock, punk and even post-punk ("Rare Air").The epic opener is a flood of chaotic drums, feedback and squealing guitar, which are all staples on the album. You can hear the slow and low Rage influence on "Repo Man," but the heavy mood gives it a Tool quality, too. "Hired Gun" is a drunken sing-along with thick riffs and classic rock vocals spliced with electrified interludes.
Did Dope Body really need to boldface its '90s fetish by naming a song "AOL" on their new album? The answer is no. They did it anyway. On Lifer, the Baltimore band’s follow-up to 2012’s Natural History, "AOL" is the most blatant reference to that bygone decade of dialup Internet and weirdo alt-rock that made In Utero sound safe. Drive Like Jehu, Girls Against Boys, Brainiac, Chavez, U.S.
Lifer is the sound of a band coming to terms with itself, attempting to reconcile its boisterous, sweat-drenched past with a future that, while still retaining all of the vital elements of the destructive past on which they built their reputation, seeks to temper its noisier, more chaotic moments. refashioning them into a slightly more polished, complex sonic palette. As before, drummer David Jacober demands the majority of the attention, bashing his way through the sonic morass created by his band mates, flailing madly regardless of the tempo to create a sound that is as much a distinct voice within the context of the band as that of vocalist Andrew Laumann who here shouts, growls and even sings his way through a handful of tracks.
Dope Body's brand of primordial, psych-addled noise rock is a lot of fun. Their 2012 release, Natural History felt life-affirming, urging a desperate release of suppressed energies in 47-minutes of brutish, ecstatic frenzy. Its disjointed, angular attack made it excitingly unpredictable, dispersed with a low-end 'sludge-hammering' groove that settled deeply in the gut, all tied up with melodic sensibilities that widened the sound to expansive levels.