"Beacon of Faith"

(Southern Lord)

01. Worse Than Hate
02. Absolved of Life/Spent Cells
03. Beacon of Faith
04. Gift Taker
05. Capsule
06. Outbreeding
07. Vicarious Trauma
08. Victim Services
09. Indigo Child
10. Eulogy Template
11. Bevel Down
12. Carbide
13. Nostrovia

RATING: 7/10

Comparing BAPTISTS to noisecore pioneers CONVERGE is inevitable. The characteristic style and sounds remain in tow with the band's third full-length album, "Beacon of Faith", but it does more than simply chase the forefathers. BAPTISTS continues along a path that is comparatively more linear in approach yet much catchier and easily digestible. For some, album number three may be more of the same. But in proper context, the Vancouver band has always had a sense of purpose and has known what it's doing, churning out material that is reliable rather than drastically and pointlessly different from that which came before.

For the uninitiated, the Canadian act's approach to hardcore is replete with groovy ENTOMBED-like licks and coarseness as well as the characteristic grime of crust. "Beacon of Faith" is an extension of the band's focus upon guitar melody that's anchored by the jaw-dropping, busy, hard-rocking drum work of Nick Yacyshyn. The percussionist helms the ship and changes the speed from raucous hardcore that's peppered with explosive noise bursts down to knuckle-dragging sludge when the changes make sense. The front end of the album is loaded heavily with pummeling d-beat aggression that is likely to appeal to heavy music fans of more conventional styles as well as those who enjoy their hard-hitting racket to exist within a grey area. And one can't credit Yacyshyn enough, undeniably the band's brightest star.

At times things seem extraordinarily simple, which wouldn't necessarily even be a bad thing, but given proper reflection, BAPTISTS is an absolute master of toying with the balance between hardcore ferocity and heavy metal melody, as well as with negative space and chaotic noise. And at the end of it all, the band filtered the fracas into catchy, seemingly straightforward songs like "Gift Taker". The collection of songs on "Beacon of Faith" surely could not have come together in a short amount of time. Relatively more dramatic moments are evident with "Capsule"'s simmering buildup, which, instead of reaching a point of metallic rage, finds an eerie state of noise rock-inspired bliss. Indeed, for while the noise rock backbone isn't necessarily always overt, it is ever-present, most obviously so on songs like "Victim Services".

It would be a stretch to label the band avant-garde or experimental per se. However, the manner in which the group creatively wanders suggests it wasn't exactly a kid who colored within the lines in kindergarten. The breadth of its capabilities as well as its disregard of strict genre rules becomes apparent on slow-burner "Indigo Child". The band has always been known to be rich with nuance, and what matters most on "Beacon of Faith" is that BAPTISTS has paid attention to detail and leveraged some impressive, intricate work without allowing it to sound too busy. It just makes sure that it sounds good.


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