After several years of doing the rounds in a series of mile-a-minute riff-salad outfits that have been fighting for recognition ever since the day Converge released “Jane Doe” over a decade ago, the members of Vancouver miscreants Baptists certainly know how to produce a bloody great racket, and they’ve pooled their collective experience into “Bushcraft”, a 27-minute barrage of punk-fuelled hardcore violence that would have Ray Mears running screaming into the trees, all thoughts of outdoor pursuits banished from his mind.
Opening track ‘Betterment’ briefly teases your eardrums with some leaden chords that hang heavy in the air before the punishingly precise drumming of Nick Yacyshyn carry you off on a d-beat odyssey as guitars squall and writhe in discordant anguish. There’s barely time for breath before the chaotic shredding of ‘Think Tank Breed’ and ‘In Droves’ tramples all in its path and the explosion of noise that is ‘Bullets’ sprays harsh riffs and blink-and-you’ll-miss-em drum fills in all directions. Vocalist Andrew Drury sounds mightily pissed off at something, alternating between gruff roars and urgent yelping as the pace slows for an arse-kicking breakdown section that’s tailor made for stomping your feet until you can’t feel your legs anymore.
Producer Kurt Ballou’s influence is all over “Bushcraft” like a rash, from the twisted, stop-start wreckage of ‘Still Melt’ to the coruscating frenzy of ‘Mortar Head’ and ‘Crutching Trails.’ This is strictly a punk album in every outlook with Baptists striving to reach a level of intensity that can only be found in underground squats and basements with walls plastered in peeling DIY posters. Only the DIY that Baptists indulge in is within the bullshit-free realm of hardcore where the only thing that matters is standing out for yourselves. That they may have whole-heartedly embraced the sound of their biggest influence a tad too tightly isn’t worth moaning about when it’s a band as good as Converge, and hey, if their guitarist is on board and down with it, who gives a shit? Plus, it doesn’t hurt when the music makes you want to trash everything in sight, all in under half an hour.