It has always been a bit strange how something so fast, coarse and outright blistering insists on using the moist mossy woodlands of British Columbia as imagery for their art. Their aesthetic has always been caked in soil and undergrowth amongst the ferns and trees. It’s the lands that the Baptists boys inhabit, after all, but every other indicator has an incendiary implication. And maybe their new album Beacon of Faith is an acknowledgment of their fiery tendencies as we see a hooded figure in amongst the forest in front of an innocuous fire.
Baptists have always had a very niche sound carved out. It exists between the melancholy of Converge and bombastic riffing of Every Time I Die. Their own brand of pissed-off, feedback-laden hardcore is instantly recognizable, albeit a bit one dimensional. Their guitar tones are brisk and warm, with riffs weaving between mid-register blips and crunchy power chords. Accompanied by a dizzying rhythm section and namely the drum god Nick Yacyshyn’s relentless flurry behind the kit. The band neatly position themselves amongst the highest echelons of pissed off crusty music. It’s agile yet it hits like a truck. Real authentic “mad-at-your-dad” type music.
Their first offering, Bushcraft, saw a nearly perfect album play out front-to-back with nonstop aggression, only slowing down for moments that begged for a mosh pit. Bloodmines followed in the footsteps of Bushcraft but suffered from some minor pacing issues, (that is to say sometimes it was less fast). So four years later, how does Beacon of Faith fare?
To put it simply, really damn well. Beacon of Faith sees the band no longer experimenting with slower and mid-tempo dynamics and adding some much-needed diversity to their arsenal. On tracks like “Nostrovia” and “Eulogy Template,” we see the band delve into Isis-style post-metal tinged with their own signature brand of fury and southern feedback. It’s a really effective ingredient. Otherwise, Beacon of Faith sees itself pummeling the listeners with beaters and pit anthems such as “Outbreeding”, “Victim Service” and “Worse than Hate”. There is very little variation here aside from the pace-changing post-metal moments from what we’ve come to expect from Baptists. But they are absolutely relentless.
Baptists serve to show us how void we are of truly pissed off music. Even years of great releases from the gamut of extreme music shows us that sometimes, just barking, crust and blistering drums are all you need for an unequivocally cathartic experience. Surely this isn’t the end all, be all for fast angry music, but there’s something unspoken about the simplicity of it all. It’s precise and tactical, yet noisy and loose. It’s rough around the edges yet fully realized and executed perfectly. The production is crisp yet suffocating. Everything Baptists do on Beacon of Faith, they do perfectly. The mess they make is completely by design. And while their music is singular in its purpose, few match their ambition and fewer still execute it on such a high level. Now go blow off some steam and check this out.