Drowningman – Rock and Roll Killing Machine

Rock and Roll Killing Machine

First of all, I don’t think I could possibly do this album adequate justice without first exploring the cover art. See, this is something no critic worth his/her salt should do, since, as the old proverb goes, one should never judge a book by its cover. Whoever muttered that age-old tidbit of wisdom, however, obviously never saw the cover of Drowningman’s latestfull-length, Rock and Roll Killing Machine. After all, how could anything contained on this album possibly compare with the bloody tooth that adorns the cover of this album. A bloody tooth, for crying out loud! What could possibly be funnier, or more rock and roll, than a bloody tooth? So, let it be known. As of Sept. 12, this album’s release date, bloody teeth are funny. That being said, I now feel I can properly address this album.
There was (sort of) a point to the preceding paragraph, and that was to point out the somewhat twisted sense of humor that pervades this entire album. You must take Drowningman with a grain of salt, because that is how they take themselves. Witness the following song titles: “Last Week’s Minutes from the Meeting of the Secret Society of your Friends who Actually Hate You,” and “My First Restraining Order.” Obviously, while Drowningman does attempt to tackle issues and problems that might arise in one’s life, they do so in a way that would not go over well with say, your grandmother.
Drowningman play a style of hardcore that blends the raging Zeppelin-inspired riffs of Coalesce with the melodic sense of a band like Boy Sets Fire. Their songwriting skills have obviously progressed since their last EP, How They Light Cigarettes in Prison, where their two styles didn’t mix so smoothly. On Cigarettes, the band would move from a straightforward hardcore sound to something the Get Up Kids might be proud of, then back again. While the band sounded strong, the melodic parts often appeared somewhat out of place. Drowningman seems to have eliminated that problem for this release, intermingling their songwriting styles with seamless precision (such as on the incredible “My First Restraining Order” or “This Year’s Most Fashionable Signs of Weakness”). Singer Simon Brody often sounds like Nathan Gray (of Boy Sets Fire), though that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Brody’s lyrics however, stray from the political activism of Gray and instead lean towards biting, sarcastic remarks (“tell me you can see these tears in my eyes/are the cameras picking up the dying inside?”).
The band has also made an improvement as far as their playing is concerned. Rarely on this record will you find power-chord riffs or standard rhythmic parts. The guitars collide with each other head-on, swirling, churning, and raging under the lyrics. The rhythm section is also impressive. Blitzkrieg snare attacks and insane bass drumming couple with solid bass parts to propel the songs forward. All this, and the band performs perfect start-stop storms, such as in the ferocious title track.
In the end, you have a band that sounds like a more ferocious, sarcastic Boy Sets Fire, with better music. The whole “melodic-hardcore” thing’s been done before, but Drowningman do an admirable job of stringing sonically unrelated parts. The band also knows when to call it quits. This album (much like Coalesce’s best) clocks in with nine songs at just under 30minutes. As wonderful as some hardcore can be, the ears can only take so much at a time. Fortunately, Drowningman know this, and they’ve pieced together an album of nine of the best hardcore songs I’ve heard all year. That, and they put a bloody tooth on the cover. What more could one ask for?