El Drugstore: Plague Ship

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El Drugstore: Plague Ship
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El Drugstore: Plague Ship
Mathcore, Post-Hardcore, Progressive Metal
Nefarious Industries
December 31st, 2013 (Digital)
Release length: 45:26
Three years ago, East of the Wall took a massive hit during a line-up change that saw one of the key members part ways with the group, sending their fans into an uproar of concern for its future. While that band has proven to remain strong, El Drugstore has clawed its way from the rubble of the titanic shift of power. Helmed by former East of the Wall guitarist Kevin Conway, their current drummer Seth Rheam, and bassist Rolando Alvarado, this new entity spent the past few years writing new material. After a stint with A Fucking Elephant on a split EP back in 2011, El Drugstore brings us their debut full-length album, Plague Ship. Is this chaotic mash-up of Technical Progressive Metal something well worth the wait or not?

Plague Ship can be a very immense album, but it definitely doesn’t start that way. “Tell Them I Said Something” has a decent mixture of Progressive Metal that shares a hint of Post-Hardcore melody within the chaotic yet well-timed riffs. It’s actually a lighter song until the two minute mark where things pick up an aggressive Mathcore approach with deeper distortions for a good while. “By What Ill-Begotten Means Have You Procured This Meat?” is also easier to get into. The song itself has a very eccentric atmosphere that is really infectious without requiring a good deal of melody. At times the riffs can become a bit trippy, such as around the two-and-a-half minute mark when it blurs the lines between Psychadelic Rock and Space Rock, the latter thanks largely to the guitar solo before its pulling to the forefront to give way to a sudden surge of blast beat fuelled grinding madness.

“Wheel of Sadness” is an odd shorter track that has some upbeat riffs that sound fun until the crushing deeper distortions and twanging picks up and hammers away at the listener. The bass and lead guitar seem to be combative at times, though the main verses rely more on the lead riffs, giving it a wacky Fantomas vibe. And then there’s the dark and overbearing “Hipster Tits,” starting with a furious pace that feels like a psychotic break that doesn’t last too long before slowing down to breathe, only to slowly build back up through eccentric riffs that lose the seem to drop the bass a bit for an electric mid-pitch cleaner distortion and impressive guitar solos that can sometimes remind you of a rich eight-bit game’s soundtrack.

“Enthusiastic Corruption of the Public Good” is one of the more hostile performances of the release. It kicks off with a very slow twanging bass-heavy groove with some atmospheric hooks layered over it. By the first minute, both stringed instruments start to show some technicality, gradually getting tighter, faster, and impressively complex, ending with a little Punk infused two-stepping and rebellion. While this song has a level of showing off that is usually damaging, the way Plague Ship sounds overall actually makes it work out well, and end up a better experience than the last two tracks. “Pandemonium in the Bronx” is a slower technical performance that focuses on heavy, deeper material that only slightly grabs the listener when it becomes more intricate in some spots and solos. “Steakback” builds off the slow, static-filled climax, but never really builds to anything major, even coming off a bit thin and boring after a while.

Plague Ship ends up a solid debut full-length is like listening to that crazy homeless guy on the corner go off about how the government is in bed with an alien race that planted a chip in his brain so they could read his thoughts and shrink his penis, all the while being structured well enough to make perfect sense. Eccentric performances litter a variety of upbeat songs and incredibly burdening tracks with or without largely complex guitar and bass performances, keeping you interested and in awe of the talent on display through nearly all of the recording. The problem is that there’s so much musical skill on display that the slower two songs “Pandemonium in the Bronx” and “Steakback” come off horribly weak and far from engaging. With those two tracks really being the only ones that hinder the release, El Drugstore do a fantastic job of asserting their abilities digitally. Sadly, Plague Ship is only available as a download on December 31st, so if you’re a fan of physical pressings, you’ll have to wait until one is announced some time in 2014.

01. Tell Them I Said Something – 2:55
02. Hipster Tits – 5:03
03. Enthusiastic Corruption of the Public Good – 4:45
04. Fascinating Underpants – 4:45
05. By What Ill-Begotten Means Have You Procured This Meat? – 4:07
06. The Natives are Gettin Useless – 4:40
07. Tokyo Assault – 4:28
08. Wheel of Sadness – 2:42
09. Pandemonium in the Bronx – 6:05
10. Steakback – 5:57
Initial Pressing Score: 8/10

El Drugstore

Digital review copy of this release provided by Nefarious Industries via Earsplit PR.