Imagine this: you’re some young punk and you’re so thirsty for every scrap of defiant, spiteful, unflinching, rowdy vitriol you can get your hands on. You’re pretty well-
acquainted with the classics, but you want, no, you need more. Something alive. Something real, and now, and secret. Some older kid notices you at one of the few shows you’ve been able to go to and they ask “Hey, you heard of Royal Drug? ” You flinch at first, because you don’t, you don’t already know and you feel like you’re supposed to. But they don’t mind that you don’t know. They hand you a tape that reads “Defend Degeneracy” and you’re immediately charged with excitement. Already imagining the things that could be on this obscure tome, you go home and you listen. The next day you ditch class and sit in your car and you listen. Later that night, you stay up in your room, pacing, wild with directionless energy and you listen. It makes you want to throw furniture. It makes you want to fight police. It makes you want to bite your own tongue off. More than anything though, it makes you want to move. None of this has happened yet, but it will.
If you’ve seen or heard Royal Drug before then you’re probably expecting a sonic avalanche of gritty, unhinged powerviolence from their latest offering and you would not be disappointed. For 15 disgusting tracks this guttural diatribe careens between indecent mid-tempo struts and blast beats that sound like a diesel engine turning over in the cold. The vocals bark with the texture of old gristle. Guitars scream out and die amidst strange samples.
Some of the small touches give a lot to the seasoned listener. The melodic guitar harmony on the lead at the end of Locusts took me by surprise, a tiny fleck of mica on a filthy stone. As did the absolutely apocalyptic breakdown on Mechanical Separation which is heavy in a distinctly doomy way, giving the listener the familiarity of a hardcore breakdown but with the aesthetic of weed smoke and a crumb-laden shag carpet.
Lyrically, the album pushes to the surface the violence and alienation of everyday life. Just because something happens all around us constantly doesn’t make it less violent or dangerous, and when we cannot escape this banal violence, it changes us. The desire to escape the pain caused by this process is thrown in our faces repeatedly. The delivery is that of an ungloved fist. If we cannot be awakened to action, we will at least be awakened to the pain.
If this album were food it would be an absolutely unrecognizable ugly curry prepared for you by your least-showered and weirdest friend who may or may not be a hoarder. It may not be pretty, but it's damned good.
If you’re thinking of picking up a copy of the album be sure to head to their release show April 4th at La Chancla DIY, 1413 4th St. SW with XSAVAGEX, Filth is Eternal, and local legends Laughing Dog.
Alexster Crowley DenBaars
Photo cred: Aubrey-Rose Stacy