‘Bushcraft’ is alive, it breathes, but only the blackest breaths, and it swells and heaves with sick imagery and sicker sounds. Hissing venom, squealing feedback, the barks of mad dogs and the bellows of madder men all echo through the first full-length from Vancouver quartet Baptists, and the violence threatens to bubble over, flood into your lap at any second. Some of that is down to a kick-ass, prickly production job by Converge’s Kurt Ballou (dude does no wrong behind a sound board) but the bulk of the terror is provided by the band.
‘Betterment’, all furious, fuzzy riffs and bullet-time drumming, would be a raging, raucous opener no matter who recorded it, the nasty 90 seconds of ‘Think Tank Breed’ would burn if you could touch it, and while ‘In Droves’ does its best to pound your head in, it drives to make it bang at the same time. Oh sure there’s grimy, d-beat rage and wailing white noise here but boy, do these guys understand the power of the riff. ‘Still Melt’ is a hooked snake fang of a song, set to get under your skin, there are grooves elsewhere that feel positively sexy, and in highlight ‘Soiled Roots’ the band have a real calling card- a dark, menacing, riff-powered muscular monster that combines sparse guitars and hopeless yowls with all-out neighbour-baiting noise. It sounds like they’re shredding their instruments right behind you. More of this please.
Like Converge or fellow countrymen Cursed before them, Baptists are never easy listening. Hell, at times they’re downright confrontational. But like those bands they play with passion, heart and something real and hold your attention wholesale. ‘Bushcraft’ captures this primal and powerful outfit hard at work and only leaves you wanting more.